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Title: George Eliot's Life, Vol. III (of 3)
       as related in her Letters and Journals

Author: George Eliot

Editor: J. W. Cross

Release Date: June 29, 2013 [EBook #43045]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Andrew Templeton, JoAnn
Greenwood and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

Transcriber's Note:

This is Volume III of a three volume set:

A combined index to the entire set is located at the end of Volume III.

Narrative content written by J. Cross and material quoted from writers other than George Eliot are interspersed throughout the text. Their content is placed in block quotes.

Remaining transcriber's notes are located at the end of the text.


"Our finest hope is finest memory"


No. 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea

No. 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

as related in her Letters and Journals







ADAM BEDE. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

DANIEL DERONDA. 2 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $2.50.

ESSAYS and LEAVES FROM A NOTE-BOOK. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

FELIX HOLT, THE RADICAL. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

MIDDLEMARCH. 2 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $2.50.

ROMOLA. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE, and SILAS MARNER. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.


THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.

Harper & Brothers will send any of the above volumes by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price. For other editions of George Eliot's works published by Harper & Brothers see advertisement at end of third volume.


January, 1867, to December, 1867.
Tour in Spain Page 1
January, 1868, to December, 1868.
"The Spanish Gypsy" 24
January, 1869, to December, 1872.
Poems—"Middlemarch" 55
January, 1873, to December, 1875.
"Brewing," "Deronda" 138
March, 1876, to November, 1878.
"Daniel Deronda"—Illness and Death of Mr. Lewes 197
January, 1879, to 22d December, 1880.
"Theophrastus Such"—Marriage with Mr. Cross—Death 249


No. 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea   Frontispiece.
The Heights, Witley. From a Sketch by Mrs. Allingham To face p. 216




The new year of 1867 opens with the description of the journey to Spain.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, Jan. 1867, from Bordeaux.

We prolonged our stay in Paris in order to see Madame Mohl, who was very good to us; invited the Scherers and other interesting people to meet us at dinner on the 29th, and tempted us to stay and breakfast with her on the 31st, by promising to invite Renan, which she did successfully, and so procured us a bit of experience that we were glad to have, over and above the pleasure of seeing a little more of herself and M. Mohl. I like them both, and wish there were a chance of knowing them better. We paid for our pleasure by being obliged to walk in the rain (from the impossibility of getting a carriage) all the way from the Rue de Rivoli—where a charitable German printer, who had taken us up in his fiacre, was obliged to set us down—to the Hôtel du Helder, through streets literally jammed with carriages and omnibuses, carrying people who were doing the severe social duties of the last day in the year. The rain it raineth every day, with the exception of yesterday; we can't travel away from it, apparently. But we start in desperation for Bayonne in half an hour.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 16th Jan. 1867, from Biarritz.

Snow on the ground here, too—more, we are told, than has been seen here for fifteen years before. But [2] it has been obliging enough to fall in the night, and the sky is glorious this morning, as it was yesterday. Sunday was the one exception since the 6th, when we arrived here to a state of weather which has allowed us to be out of doors the greater part of our daylight. We think it curious that, among the many persons who have talked to us about Biarritz, the Brownings alone have ever spoken of its natural beauties; yet these are transcendent. We agree that the sea never seemed so magnificent to us before, though we have seen the Atlantic breaking on the rocks at Ilfracombe and on the great granite walls of the Scilly Isles. In the southern division of the bay we see the sun set over the Pyrenees; and in the northern we have two splendid stretches of sand, one with huge fragments of dark rock scattered about for the waves to leap over, the other an unbroken level, firm to the feet, where the hindmost line of wave sends up its spray on the horizon like a suddenly rising cloud. This part of the bay is worthily called the Chambre de l'Amour; and we have its beauties all to ourselves, which, alas! in this stage of the world, one can't help feeling to be an advantage. The few families and bachelors who are here (chiefly English) scarcely ever come across our path. The days pass so rapidly, we can hardly believe in their number when we come to count them. After breakfast we both read the "Politique"—George one volume and I another—interrupting each other continually with questions and remarks. That morning study keeps me in a state of enthusiasm through the day—a moral glow, which is a sort of milieu subjectif for the sublime sea and sky. Mr. Lewes is converted to the warmest admiration of the chapter on language in the third volume, which about three years ago he [3] thought slightly of. I think the first chapter of the fourth volume is among the finest of all, and the most finely written. My gratitude increases continually for the illumination Comte has contributed to my life. But we both of us study with a sense of having still much to learn and to understand. About ten or half-past ten we go out for our morning walk; and then, while we plunge about in the sand or march along the cliff, George draws out a book and tries my paces in Spanish, demanding a quick-as-light translation of nouns and phrases. Presently I retort upon him, and prove that it is easier to ask than to answer. We find this system of vivâ-voce mutual instruction so successful that we are disgusted with ourselves for not having used it before through all our many years of companionship; and we are making projects for giving new interest to Regent's Park by pursuing all sorts of studies in the same way there. We seldom come indoors till one o'clock, and we turn out again at three, often remaining to see the sunset. One other thing I have been reading here which I must tell you of. It is a series of three papers by Saveney, in the Revue des Deux Mondes of last year, on "La Physique Moderne," an excellent summary, giving a glimpse of the great vista opened in that region. I think you would like to read them when you are strong enough for that sort of exertion.

We stayed three days in Paris, and passed our time very agreeably. The first day we dined with Madame Mohl, who had kindly invited Professor Scherer and his wife, Jules Simon, Lomenie, Lavergne, "and others" to meet us. That was on the Saturday, and she tempted us to stay the following Monday by saying she would invite Renan to breakfast with us. Renan's [4] appearance is something between the Catholic priest and the dissenting minister. His manners are very amiable, his talk pleasant, but not distinguished. We are entertaining great projects as to our further journeying. It will be best for you to address Poste Restante, Barcelona.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 2d Feb. 1867.

Are you astonished to see our whereabouts? We left Biarritz for San Sebastian, where we stayed three days; and both there and all our way to Barcelona our life has been a succession of delights. We have had perfect weather, blue skies, and a warm sun. We travelled from San Sebastian to Saragossa, where we passed two nights; then to Lerida for one night, and yesterday to Barcelona. You know the scenery from San Sebastian to Alsasua, through the lower Pyrenees, because it lies on the way to Burgos and Madrid. At Alsasua we turned off through Navarre into Aragon, seeing famous Pampeluna, looking as beautiful as it did ages ago among the grand hills. At Saragossa the scene was thoroughly changed; all through Aragon, as far as we could see, I should think the country resembles the highlands of Central Spain. There is the most striking effect of hills, flanking the plain of Saragossa, I ever saw. They are of palish clay, washed by the rains into undulating forms, and some slight herbage upon them makes the shadows of an exquisite blue.

These hills accompanied us in the distance all the way through Aragon, the snowy mountains topping them in the far distance. The land is all pale brown, the numerous towns and villages just match the land, and so do the sheepfolds, built of mud or stone. The herbage is all of an ashy green. Perhaps if I had been in Africa I should say, as you do, that the country [5] reminded me of Africa; as it is, I think of all I have read about the East. The men who look on while others work at Saragossa also seem to belong to the East, with a great striped blanket wrapped grandly round them, and a kerchief tied about their hair. But though Aragon was held by the Moors longer than any part of Northern Spain, the features and skins of the people seem to me to bear less traces of the mixture there must have been than one would fairly expect. Saragossa has a grand character still, in spite of the stucco with which the people have daubed the beautiful small brick of which the houses are built. Here and there one sees a house left undesecrated by stucco; and all of them have the fluted tiles and the broad eaves beautifully ornamented. Again, one side of the old cathedral still shows the exquisite inlaid work which, in the façade, has been overlaid hideously. Gradually, as we left Aragon and entered Catalonia, the face of the country changed, and we had almost every sort of beauty in succession; last of all, between Monserrat and Barcelona, a perfect garden, with the richest red soil—blossoms on the plum and cherry trees, aloes thick in the hedges. At present we are waiting for the Spanish hardships to begin. Even at Lerida, a place scarcely at all affected by foreign travellers, we were perfectly comfortable—and such sights! The people scattered on the brown slopes of rough earth round the fortress—the women knitting, etc., the men playing at cards, one wonderful, gaudily dressed group; another of handsome gypsies. We are actually going by steam-boat to Alicante, and from Alicante to Malaga. Then we mean to see Granada, Cordova, and Seville. We shall only stay here a few days—if this weather continues. [6]

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 18th Feb. 1867, from Granada.

Your kind letter, written on the 5th, reached me here this morning. I had not heard of the criticism in the Edinburgh. Mr. Lewes read the article, but did not tell me of the reviewer's legal wisdom, thinking that it would only vex me to no purpose. However, I had felt sure that something of that sort must have appeared in one review article or another. I am heartily glad and grateful that you have helped justice in general, as well as justice to me in particular, by getting the vindication written for the Pall Mall. It was the best possible measure to adopt. Since we left Barcelona, a fortnight ago, we have seen no English papers, so that we have been in the dark as to English news.

Were you not surprised to hear that we had come so far? The journey from San Sebastian by Saragossa and Lerida turned out to be so easy and delightful that we ceased to tremble, and determined to carry out our project of going by steamer to Alicante and Malaga. You cannot do better than follow our example; I mean, so far as coming to Spain is concerned. Believe none of the fictions that bookmakers get printed about the horrors of Spanish hotels and cookery, or the hardships of Spanish travel—still less about the rudeness of Spaniards. It is true that we have not yet endured the long railway journeys through Central Spain, but wherever we have been hitherto we have found nothing formidable, even for our rickety bodies.

We came hither from Malaga in the berlina (coupé) of the diligence, and have assured ourselves that Mr. Blackburne's description of a supposed hen-roost, overturned in the Alameda at Malaga, which proved to be the Granada diligence, is an invention. The vehicle is comfortable enough, and the road is perfect; and [7] at the end of it we have found ourselves in one of the loveliest scenes on earth.

We shall remain here till the 23d, and then go to Cordova first, to Seville next, and finally to Madrid, making our way homeward from thence by easy stages. We expect to be in the smoky haze of London again soon after the middle of March, if not before.

I wish I could believe that you were all having anything like the clear skies and warm sun which have cheered our journeying for the last month. At Alicante we walked among the palm-trees with their golden fruit hanging in rich clusters, and felt a more delightful warmth than that of an English summer. Last night we walked out and saw the towers of the Alhambra, the wide Vega, and the snowy mountains, by the brilliant moonlight. You see, we are getting a great deal of pleasure, but we are not working, as you seem charitably to imagine. We tire ourselves, but only with seeing or going to see unforgetable things. You will say that we ought to work to better purpose when we get home. Amen. But just now we read nothing but Spanish novels—and not much of those. We said good-bye to philosophy and science when we packed up our trunks at Biarritz.

Please keep some friendship warm for us, that we may not be too much chilled by the English weather when we get back.

Letter to John Blackwood, 21st Feb. 1867.

We are both heartily rejoiced that we came to Spain. It was a great longing of mine, for, three years ago, I began to interest myself in Spanish history and literature, and have had a work lying by me, partly written, the subject of which is connected with Spain. Whether I shall ever bring it to maturity so as to satisfy myself sufficiently to print it is a question not settled; but it [8] is a work very near my heart. We have had perfect weather ever since the 27th of January—magnificent skies and a summer sun. At Alicante, walking among the palm-trees, with the bare brown rocks and brown houses in the background, we fancied ourselves in the tropics; and a gentleman who travelled with us assured us that the aspect of the country closely resembled Aden, on the Red Sea. Here, at Granada, of course, it is much colder, but the sun shines uninterruptedly; and in the middle of the day, to stand in the sunshine against a wall, reminds me of my sensations at Florence in the beginning of June. The aspect of Granada as we first approached it was a slight disappointment to me, but the beauty of its position can hardly be surpassed. To stand on one of the towers of the Alhambra and see the sun set behind the dark mountains of Loja, and send its after-glow on the white summits of the Sierra Nevada, while the lovely Vega spreads below, ready to yield all things pleasant to the eye and good for food, is worth a very long, long journey. We shall start to-morrow evening for Cordova; then we shall go to Seville, back to Cordova, and on to Madrid.

During our short stay in Paris we went a little into society, and saw, among other people who interested us, Professor Scherer, of whom you know something. He charmed me greatly. He is a Genevese, you know, and does not talk in ready-made epigrams, like a clever Frenchman, but with well-chosen, moderate words, intended to express what he really thinks and feels. He is highly cultivated; and his wife, who was with him, is an Englishwoman of refined, simple manners.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 10th Mch. 1867, from Biarritz.

At Biarritz again, you see, after our long, delightful [9] journey, in which we have made a great loop all round the east and through the centre of Spain. Mr. Lewes says he thinks he never enjoyed a journey so much, and you will see him so changed—so much plumper and ruddier—that if pity has entered much into your regard for him he will be in danger of losing something by his bodily prosperity. We crowned our pleasures in Spain with the sight of the pictures in the Madrid gallery. The skies were as blue at Madrid as they had been through the previous part of our journeying, but the air was bitterly cold; and naughty officials receive money for warming the museum, but find other uses for the money. I caught a severe cold the last day of our visit, and, after an uncomfortable day and night's railway journey, arrived at Biarritz, only fit for bed and coddling.

Journal, 1867.

March 16.—This evening we got home after a journey to the south of Spain. I go to my poem and the construction of two prose works—if possible.

Letter to John Blackwood, 18th Mch. 1867.

We got home on Saturday evening, after as fine a passage from Calais to Dover as we ever had, even in summer. Your letter was among the pleasant things that smiled at me on my return, and helped to reconcile me to the rather rude transition from summer to winter which we have made in our journey from Biarritz. This morning it is snowing hard and the wind is roaring—a sufficiently sharp contrast to the hot sun, the dust, and the mosquitoes of Seville.

We have had a glorious journey. The skies alone, both night and day, were worth travelling all the way to see. We went to Cordova and Seville, but we feared the cold of the central lands in the north, and resisted the temptation to see Toledo, or anything else than the Madrid pictures, which are transcendent. [10]

Among the letters awaiting me was one from an American travelling in Europe, who gives me the history of a copy of "Felix Holt," which, he says, has been read by no end of people, and is now on its way through Ireland, "where he found many friends anxious but unable to get it." It seems people nowadays economize in nothing but books. I found also the letter of a "Conveyancer" in the Pall Mall, justifying the law of "Felix Holt" in answer to the Edinburgh reviewer. I did not know, before I was told of this letter in reply, that the Edinburgh reviewer had found fault with my law.

Journal, 1867.

March 21.—Received from Blackwood a check for £2166 13s. 4d., being the second instalment of £1666 13s. 4d. towards the £5000 for "Felix Holt," together with £500 as the first instalment of £1000 for ten years' copyright of the cheap edition of my novels.

Letter to John Blackwood, 21st Mch. 1867.

Your letters, with the valuable enclosure of a check for £2166 13s. 4d., have come to me this morning, and I am much obliged to you for your punctual attention.

I long to see a specimen of the cheap edition of the novels. As to the illustrations, I have adjusted my hopes so as to save myself from any great shock. When I remember my own childish happiness in a frightfully illustrated copy of the "Vicar of Wakefield," I can believe that illustration may be a great good relatively, and that my own present liking has no weight in the question.

I fancy that the placarding at railway stations is an effective measure, for Ruskin was never more mistaken than in asserting that people have no spare time to observe anything in such places. I am a very poor reader of advertisements, but even I am forced to get them unpleasantly by heart at the stations. [11]

It is rather a vexatious kind of tribute when people write, as my American correspondent did, to tell me of one paper-covered American copy of "Felix Holt" brought to Europe and serving for so many readers that it was in danger of being worn away under their hands. He, good man, finds it easy "to urge greater circulation by means of cheap sale," having "found so many friends in Ireland anxious but unable to obtain the book." I suppose putting it in a yellow cover with figures on it, reminding one of the outside of a show, and charging a shilling for it, is what we are expected to do for the good of mankind. Even then I fear it would hardly bear the rivalry of "The Pretty Milliner," or of "The Horrible Secret."

The work connected with Spain is not a romance. It is—prepare your fortitude—it is—a poem. I conceived the plot, and wrote nearly the whole as a drama in 1864. Mr. Lewes advised me to put it by for a time and take it up again, with a view to recasting it. He thinks hopefully of it. I need not tell you that I am not hopeful, but I am quite sure the subject is fine. It is not historic, but has merely historic connections. The plot was wrought out entirely as an incorporation of my own ideas. Of course, if it is ever finished to my satisfaction, it is not a work for us to get money by, but Mr. Lewes urges and insists that it shall be done. I have also my private projects about an English novel, but I am afraid of speaking as if I could depend on myself; at present I am rather dizzy, and not settled down to home habits of regular occupation.

I understand that the conveyancer who wrote to the Pall Mall is an excellent lawyer in his department, and the lecturer on Real Property at the Law Institution. [12]

If a reviewer ever checked himself by considering that a writer whom he thinks worth praising would take some pains to know the truth about a matter which is the very hinge of said writer's story, review articles would cut a shrunken figure.

Journal, 1867.

May 5.—We went to Bouverie Street to hear the first of a course of lectures on Positivism, delivered by Dr. Congreve. There were present seventy-five people, chiefly men.

May 11.—We had Mr. and Mrs. Call to dine with us, and an evening party afterwards.

May 12.—We went to hear Dr. Congreve's second lecture. The morning was thoroughly wet; the audience smaller, but still good.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 13th May, 1867.

Yesterday we went to the second of a course of lectures which Dr. Congreve is delivering on Positivism in Bouverie Street. At the first lecture on the 5th there was a considerable audience—about seventy-five, chiefly men—of various ranks, from lords and M.P.'s downwards, or upwards, for what is called social distinction seems to be in a shifting condition just now. Yesterday the wet weather doubtless helped to reduce the audience; still it was good. Curiosity brings some, interest in the subject others, and the rest go with the wish to express adhesion more or less thorough.

I am afraid you have ceased to care much about pictures, else I should wish that you could see the Exhibition of Historical Portraits at Kensington. It is really worth a little fatigue to see the English of past generations in their habit as they lived—especially when Gainsborough and Sir Joshua are the painters. But even Sir Godfrey Kneller delights me occasionally with a finely conceived portrait carefully painted. There is an unforgetable portrait of Newton by him. [13]

Journal, 1867.

May 27.—Went with G. to the Academy Exhibition.

May 29.—Went to the Exhibition of French Pictures—very agreeable and interesting.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 30th May, 1867.

I do sympathize with you most emphatically in the desire to see women socially elevated—educated equally with men, and secured as far as possible, along with every other breathing creature, from suffering the exercise of any unrighteous power. That is a broader ground of sympathy than agreement as to the amount and kind of result that may be hoped for from a particular measure. But on this special point I am far from thinking myself an oracle, and on the whole I am inclined to hope for much good from the serious presentation of women's claims before Parliament. I thought Mill's speech sober and judicious from his point of view—Karslake's an abomination.

À propos of what you say about Mr. Congreve, I think you have mistaken his, or rather Comte's, position. There is no denial of an unknown cause, but only a denial that such a conception is the proper basis of a practical religion. It seems to me pre-eminently desirable that we should learn not to make our personal comfort a standard of truth.

Journal, 1867.

June 1 (Saturday).—Wrote up to the moment when Fedalma appears in the Plaça.

June 5.—Blackwood dined with us, and I read to him my poem down to page 56. He showed great delight.

June 26.—We went to Niton for a fortnight, returning July 10.

July 16.—Received £2166 13s. 4d. from Blackwood, being the final instalment for "Felix Holt," and (£500) copyright for ten years. [14]

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 28th July, 1867.

Again we take flight! To North Germany this time, and chiefly to Dresden, where we shall be accessible through the Poste Restante. I am ashamed of saying anything about our health—we are both "objects" for compassion or contempt, according to the disposition of the subject who may contemplate us.

Mr. Beesley (I think it was he) sent us Dr. Congreve's pamphlet last night, and I read it aloud to George. We both felt a cordial satisfaction in it. We have been a good deal beset by little engagements with friends and acquaintances lately, and these, with the preparations for our journey, have been rather too much for me. Mr. Lewes is acting on the advice of Sir Henry Holland in giving up zoologizing for the present, because it obliges him to hang down his head. That is the reason we go inland, and not to the coast, as I think I hinted to you that we expected to do.

You are sympathetic enough to be glad to hear that we have had thoroughly cheerful and satisfactory letters from both our boys in Natal. They are established in their purchased farm, and are very happy together in their work. Impossible for mortals to have less trouble than we. I should have written to you earlier this week—for we start to-morrow—but that I have been laid prostrate with crushing headache one half of my time, and always going out or seeing some one the other half.

Farewell, dear. Don't write unless you have a real desire to gossip with me a little about yourself and our mutual friends. You know I always like to have news of you, but I shall not think it unkind—I shall only think you have other things to do—if you are silent.

Journal, 1867.

July 29.—We went to Dover this evening as the start on a journey into Germany (North). [15]

Oct. 1.—We returned home after revisiting the scenes of cherished memories—Ilmenau, Dresden, and Berlin. Of new places we have seen Wetzlar, Cassel, Eisenach, and Hanover. At Ilmenau I wrote Fedalma's soliloquy after her scene with Silva, and the following dialogue between her and Juan. At Dresden I rewrote the whole scene between her and Zarca.

Oct. 9.—Reading "Los Judios en Espâna," Percy's "Reliques," "Isis," occasionally aloud.

Oct. 10.—Reading the "Iliad," Book III. Finished "Los Judios en Espâna," a wretchedly poor book.

Oct. 11.—Began again Prescott's "Ferdinand and Isabella."

Oct. 19.—George returned last evening from a walking expedition in Surrey with Mr. Spencer.

This entry is an interesting one to me, as it fixes the date of the first acquaintance with my family. Mr. Herbert Spencer was an old friend of ours, and in the course of their walk he and Mr. Lewes happened to pass through Weybridge, where my mother at that time lived. They came to dinner. Mr. Lewes, with his wonderful social powers, charmed all, and they passed a delightful evening. I was myself in America at the time, where I was in business as a banker at New York. My eldest sister had just then published a little volume of poems,[1] which was kindly received by the press. On the invitation of Mr. Lewes she went shortly afterwards to see George Eliot, then in the zenith of her fame; nor did she ever forget the affectionate manner in which the great author greeted her. This was the beginning of a close friendship between the [16] families, which lasted, and increased in intimacy, to the end. Mr. Spencer, in writing to tell me that it was he who first made Mr. Lewes acquainted with George Eliot, adds, "You will perhaps be struck by the curious coincidence that it was also by me that Lewes was introduced to your family at Weybridge and remoter issues entailed."

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Oct. 1867.

Before I got your letter I was about to write to you and direct your attention to an article in the forthcoming (October) number of the Quarterly Review, on the Talmud. You really must go out of your way to read it. It is written by one of the greatest Oriental scholars, the man among living men who probably knows the most about the Talmud; and you will appreciate the pregnancy of the article. There are also beautiful, soul-cheering things selected for quotation.

Journal, 1867.

Oct. 31.—I have now inserted all that I think of for the first part of the "Spanish Gypsy." On Monday I wrote three new Lyrics. I have also rewritten the first scenes in the gypsy camp, to the end of the dialogue between Juan and Fedalma. But I have determined to make the commencement of the second part continue the picture of what goes forward in Bedmar.

Nov. 1.—Began this morning Part II. "Silva was marching homeward," etc.

Letter to John Blackwood, 9th Nov. 1867.

About putting Fedalma in type. There would be advantages, but also disadvantages; and on these latter I wish to consult you. I have more than three thousand lines ready in the order I wish them to stand in, and it would be good to have them in print to read them critically. Defects reveal themselves more fully in type, and emendations might be more conveniently made on proofs, since I have given up the idea of copying the MS. as a whole. On the other hand, could [17] the thing be kept private when it had once been in the printing-office? And I particularly wish not to have it set afloat, for various reasons. Among others, I want to keep myself free from all inducements to premature publication; I mean, publication before I have given my work as much revision as I can hope to give it while my mind is still nursing it. Beyond this, delay would be useless. The theory of laying by poems for nine years may be a fine one, but it could not answer for me to apply it. I could no more live through one of my books a second time than I can live through last year again. But I like to keep checks on myself, and not to create external temptations to do what I should think foolish in another. If you thought it possible to secure us against the oozing out of proofs and gossip, the other objections would be less important. One difficulty is, that in my MS. I have frequently two readings of the same passage, and, being uncertain which of them is preferable, I wish them both to stand for future decision. But perhaps this might be managed in proof. The length of the poem is at present uncertain, but I feel so strongly what Mr. Lewes insists on, namely, the evil of making it too long, that I shall set it before me as a duty not to make it more than nine thousand lines, and shall be glad if it turns out a little shorter.

Will you think over the whole question? I am sure your mind will supply any prudential considerations that I may have omitted.

I am vexed by the non-success of the serial edition of the works. It is not, Heaven knows, that I read my own books or am puffed up about them, but I have been of late quite astonished by the strengthening testimonies that have happened to come to me of people [18] who care about every one of my books, and continue to read them—especially young men, who are just the class I care most to influence. But what sort of data can one safely go upon with regard to the success of editions?

"Felix Holt" is immensely tempted by your suggestion,[2] but George Eliot is severely admonished by his domestic critic not to scatter his energies.

Mr. Lewes sends his best regards. He is in high spirits about the poem.

Journal, 1867.

Nov. 22.—Began an "Address to the Working Men, by Felix Holt," at Blackwood's repeated request.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1867.

Yes, indeed—when I do not reciprocate "chaos is come again." I was quite sure your letter would come, and was grateful beforehand.

There is a scheme on foot for a Woman's College, or, rather, University, to be built between London and Cambridge, and to be in connection with the Cambridge University, sharing its professors, examinations, and degrees! Si muove.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 1st Dec. (?) 1867.

I have written to Miss Davies to ask her to come to see me on Tuesday.

I am much occupied just now, but the better education of women is one of the objects about which I have no doubt, and shall rejoice if this idea of a college can be carried out.

I see Miss Julia Smith's beautiful handwriting, and am glad to think of her as your guardian angel.

The author of the glorious article on the Talmud is "that bright little man" Mr. Deutsch—a very dear, delightful creature.

Journal, 1867.

Dec. 4.—Sent off the MS. of the "Address" to Edinburgh.


Letter to John Blackwood, 7th Dec. 1867.

I agree with you about the phrase "Masters of the country."[3] I wrote that part twice, and originally I distinctly said that the epithet was false. Afterwards I left that out, preferring to make a stronger argumentum ad hominem, in case any workman believed himself a future master.

I think it will be better for you to write a preliminary note, washing your hands of any over-trenchant statements on the part of the well-meaning Radical. I much prefer that you should do so.

Whatever you agree with will have the advantage of not coming from one who can be suspected of being a special pleader.

What you say about Fedalma is very cheering. But I am chiefly anxious about the road still untravelled—the road I have still zurück zu legen.

Mr. Lewes has to request several proofs of Fedalma, to facilitate revision. But I will leave him to say how many. We shall keep them strictly to ourselves, you may be sure, so that three or four will be enough—one for him, one for me, and one for the resolution of our differences.

Letter to John Blackwood 12th Dec. 1867.

I am very grateful to you for your generous words about my work. That you not only feel so much sympathy, but are moved to express it so fully, is a real help to me.

I am very glad to have had the revise of the "Address." I feel the danger of not being understood. Perhaps, by a good deal longer consideration and gradual shaping, I might have put the ideas into a more concrete, easy form.

Mr. Lewes read the proof of the poem all through [20] to himself for the first time last night, and expressed great satisfaction in the impression it produced. Your suggestion of having it put into type is a benefit for which we have reason to be obliged to you.

I cannot help saying again that it is a strong cordial to me to have such letters as yours, and to know that I have such a first reader as you.

Journal, 1867.

Dec. 21.—Finished reading "Averroës and Averroisme" and "Les Médicins Juifs." Reading "First Principles."

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 22d Dec. 1867.

Our Christmas will be very quiet. On the 27th Mr. Lewes means to start on a solitary journey to Bonn, and perhaps to Würzburg, for anatomical purposes. I don't mean that he is going to offer himself as an anatomical subject, but that he wants to get answers to some questions bearing on the functions of the nerves. It is a bad time for him to travel in, but he hopes to be at home again in ten days or a fortnight, and I hope the run will do him good rather than harm.

Journal, 1867.

Dec. 25.—George and I dined happily alone; he better for weeks than he has been all the summer before; I more ailing than usual, but with much mental consolation, part of it being the delight he expresses in my poem, of which the first part is now in print.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 26th Dec. 1867.

Thanks for the pretty remembrance. You were not unthought of before it came. Now, however, I rouse all my courage under the thick fog to tell you my inward wish—which is that the new year, as it travels on towards its old age, may bring you many satisfactions undisturbed by bodily ailment.

Mr. Lewes is going to-morrow on an unprecedented expedition—a rapid run to Bonn, to make some anatomical researches with Professor Schutze there. If he needs more than he can get at Bonn, he may go to [21] Heidelberg and Würzburg. But in any case he will not take more than a fortnight.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 28th Dec. 1867.

Public questions which, by a sad process of reduction, become piteous private questions, hang cloudily over all prospects. The state of Europe, the threat of a general war, the starvation of multitudes—one can't help thinking of these things at one's breakfast. Nevertheless, there is much enjoyment going on, and abundance of rosy children's parties.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 30th Dec. 1867.

It is very good and sweet of you to propose to come round for me on Sunday, and I shall cherish particularly the remembrance of that kindness. But, on our reading your letter, Mr. Lewes objected, on grounds which I think just, to my going to any public manifestation without him, since his absence could not be divined by outsiders.

I am companioned by dyspepsia, and feel life a struggle under the leaden sky. Mme. Bodichon writes that in Sussex the air is cold and clear, and the woods and lanes dressed in wintry loveliness of fresh, grassy patches, mingled with the soft grays and browns of the trees and hedges. Mr. Harrison shed the agreeable light of his kind eyes on me yesterday for a brief space; but I hope I was more endurable to my visitors than to myself, else I think they will not come again. I object strongly to myself, as a bundle of unpleasant sensations with a palpitating heart and awkward manners. Impossible to imagine the large charity I have for people who detest me. But don't you be one of them.

Letter to John Blackwood, 30th Dec. 1867.

I am much obliged to you for your handsome check, and still more gratified that the "Address" has been a satisfaction to you.

I am very glad to hear of your projected visit to [22] town, and shall hope to have a good batch of MS. for you to carry back. Mr. Lewes is in an unprecedented state of delight with the poem, now that he is reading it with close care. He says he is astonished that he can't find more faults. He is especially pleased with the sense of variety it gives; and this testimony is worth the more because he urged me to put the poem by (in 1865) on the ground of monotony. He is really exultant about it now, and after what you have said to me I know this will please you.

Hearty wishes that the coming year may bring you much good, and that the "Spanish Gypsy" may contribute a little to that end.


January, 1867, to December, 1867.

Letter to Madame Bodichon from Bordeaux—Madame Mohl—Scherer—Renan—Letter to Mrs. Congreve from Biarritz—Delight in Comte's "Politique"—Gratitude to him for illumination—Learning Spanish—Papers in the Revue des Deux Mondes, by Saveney—Letter to Madame Bodichon from Barcelona—Description of scenery—Pampeluna—Saragossa—Lerida—Letter to F. Harrison from Granada—The vindication of the law in "Felix Holt"—Spanish travelling—Letter to John Blackwood from Granada—Alicante—Granada—Letter to Mrs. Congreve from Biarritz—Delight of the journey—Madrid pictures—Return to the Priory—Letter to John Blackwood—"Felix Holt"—Cheap edition of novels—"Spanish Gypsy"—Dr. Congreve's Lectures on Positivism—Letter to Miss Hennell—Historical Portraits at South Kensington—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Women's claims—Comte's position—Fortnight's Visit to the Isle of Wight—Letter of adieu to Mrs. Congreve—Two months' visit to North Germany—Return to England—Reading on Spanish subjects—Mr. Lewes and Mr. Spencer at Weybridge—Acquaintance with Mrs. Cross and family—Letter to Miss Hennell—Deutsch's article on the Talmud—Letter to Blackwood about putting "Spanish Gypsy" in type—"Address to Workingmen, by Felix Holt"—Letter to Miss Hennell—Girton College—Letter to Madame Bodichon—The higher education of women—Letter to John Blackwood on the "Address"—Christmas day at the Priory—Letter to Miss Hennell—Visit of Mr. Lewes to Bonn—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Depression—Letter to John Blackwood—Mr. Lewes on "Spanish Gypsy."




Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 9th Jan. 1868.

There is a good genius presiding over your gifts—they are so felicitous. You always give me something of which I have felt the want beforehand, and can use continually. It is eminently so with my pretty mittens; there was no little appendage I wanted more; and they are just as warm at the wrist as I could have wished them to be—warming, too, as a mark of affection at a time when all cheering things are doubly welcome.

Mr. Lewes came home last night, and you may imagine that I am glad. Between the bad weather, bad health, and solitude, I have been so far unlike the wicked that I have not flourished like the green bay-tree. To make amends, he—Mr. Lewes, not the wicked—has had a brilliant time, gained great instruction, and seen some admirable men, who have received him warmly.

I go out of doors very little, but I shall open the drawer and look at my mittens on the days when I don't put them on.

Journal, 1868.

Jan.—Engaged in writing Part III. of "Spanish Gypsy."

Feb. 27.—Returned last evening from a very pleasant visit to Cambridge.[4] I am still only at p. 5 of Part IV., having had a wretched month of malaise.

March 1.—Finished Guillemin on the "Heavens," [25] and the 4th Book of the "Iliad." I shall now read Grote.

March 6.—Reading Lubbock's "Prehistoric Ages."

March 8.—Saturday concert. Joachim and Piatti, with Schubert's Ottett.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 17th Mch. 1868.

We go to-morrow morning to Torquay for a month, and I can't bear to go without saying a word of farewell to you. How sadly little we have seen each other this winter! It will not be so any more, I hope, will it?

We are both much in need of the change, for Mr. Lewes has got rather out of sorts again lately. When we come back I shall ask you to come and look at us before the bloom is off. I should like to know how you all are; but you have been so little inspired for note-writing lately that I am afraid to ask you to send me a line to the post-office at Torquay. I really deserve nothing of my friends at present.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Mch. 1868.

I don't know whether you have ever seen Torquay. It is pretty, but not comparable to Ilfracombe; and, like all other easily accessible sea-places, it is sadly spoiled by wealth and fashion, which leave no secluded walks, and tattoo all the hills with ugly patterns of roads and villa gardens. Our selfishness does not adapt itself well to these on-comings of the millennium.

I am reading about savages and semi-savages, and think that our religious oracles would do well to study savage ideas by a method of comparison with their own. Also, I am studying that semi-savage poem, the "Iliad." How enviable it is to be a classic. When a verse in the "Iliad" bears six different meanings, and nobody knows which is the right, a commentator finds this equivocalness in itself admirable! [26]

Letter to John Blackwood, end of Mch. 1868.

Mr. Lewes quite agrees with you, that it is desirable to announce the poem. His suggestion is, that it should be simply announced as "a poem" first, and then a little later as "The Spanish Gypsy," in order to give a new detail for observation in the second announcement. I chose the title, "The Spanish Gypsy," a long time ago, because it is a little in the fashion of the elder dramatists, with whom I have perhaps more cousinship than with recent poets. Fedalma might be mistaken for an Italian name, which would create a definite expectation of a mistaken kind, and is, on other grounds, less to my taste than "The Spanish Gypsy."

This place is becoming a little London, or London suburb. Everywhere houses and streets are being built, and Babbacombe will soon be joined to Torquay.

I almost envy you the excitement of golf, which helps the fresh air to exhilarate, and gives variety of exercise. Walking can never be so good as a game—if one loves the game. But when a friend of Mr. Lewes's urges him angrily to play rackets for his health, the prospect seems dreary.

We are afraid of being entangled in excursion trains, or crowds of Easter holiday-makers, in Easter week, and may possibly be driven back next Wednesday. But we are loath to have our stay so curtailed.

Mr. Lewes sends his kind regards, and pities all of us who are less interested in ganglionic cells. He is in a state of beatitude about the poem.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 4th April, 1868.

We find a few retired walks, and are the less discontented because the weather is perfect. I hope you are sharing the delights of sunshine and moonlight. There are no waves here, as you know; but under such [27] skies as we are having, sameness is so beautiful that we find no fault, and there is a particular hill at Babbacombe of the richest Spanish red. On the whole, we are glad we came here, having avoided all trouble in journeying and settling. But we should not come again without special call, for in a few years all the hills will be parts of a London suburb.

How glorious this weather is for the hard workers who are looking forward to their Easter holiday! But for ourselves, we are rather afraid of the railway stations in holiday time. Certainly, we are ill prepared for what Tennyson calls the "To-be," and it is good that we shall soon pass from this objective existence.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 6th April, 1868.

I think Ruskin has not been encouraged about women by his many and persistent attempts to teach them. He seems to have found them wanting in real scientific interest—bent on sentimentalizing in everything.

What I should like to be sure of, as a result of higher education for women—a result that will come to pass over my grave—is their recognition of the great amount of social unproductive labor which needs to be done by women, and which is now either not done at all or done wretchedly. No good can come to women, more than to any class of male mortals, while each aims at doing the highest kind of work, which ought rather to be held in sanctity as what only the few can do well. I believe, and I want it to be well shown, that a more thorough education will tend to do away with the odious vulgarity of our notions about functions and employment, and to propagate the true gospel, that the deepest disgrace is to insist on doing work for which we are unfit—to do work of any sort badly. There are many points of this kind that want being urged, but they do not come well from me. [28]

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 17th April, 1868.

Your letter came just at the right time to greet us. Thanks for that pretty remembrance. We are glad to be at home again with our home comforts around us, though we became deeply in love with Torquay in the daily heightening of spring beauties, and the glory of perpetual blue skies. The eight hours' journey (one hour more than we paid for) was rather disturbing; and, I think, Mr. Lewes has got more zoological experience than health from our month's delight—but a delight it really has been to us to have perfect quiet with the red hills, the sunshine, and the sea.

I shall be absorbed for the next fortnight, so that I cannot allow myself the sort of pleasure you kindly project for us; and when May begins, I want you to come and stay a night with us. I shall be ready by and by for such holiday-making, and you must be good to me. Will you give Dr. Congreve my thanks for his pamphlet, which I read at Torquay with great interest? All protests tell, however slowly and imperceptibly, and a protest against the doctrine that England is to keep Ireland under all conditions was what I had wished to be made. But in this matter he will have much more important concurrence than mine. I am bearing much in mind the great task of the translation. When it is completed we shall be able and glad to do what we were not able to do in the case of the "Discours Préliminaire," namely, to take our share, if we may, in the expenses of publication.

Journal, 1868.

April 16.—Returned home, bringing Book IV. finished.

April 18.—Went with Mr. Pigott to see Holman Hunt's great picture, Isabella and the Pot of Basil.

Letter to John Blackwood, 21st April, 1868.

I send you by to-day's post the MS. of Book IV., that it may be at hand whenever there is opportunity [29] for getting it into print, and letting me have it in that form for correction. It is desirable to get as forward as we can, in case of the Americans asking for delay after their reception of the sheets—if they venture to make any arrangement. I shall send the MS. of Book V. (the last) as soon as headache will permit, but that is an uncertain limit. We returned from Torquay on the 16th, leaving the glorious weather behind us. We were more in love with the place on a better acquaintance: the weather, and the spring buds, and the choirs of birds, made it seem more of a paradise to us every day.

The poem will be less tragic than I threatened: Mr. Lewes has prevailed on me to return to my original conception, and give up the additional development, which I determined on subsequently. The poem is rather shorter in consequence. Don't you think that my artistic deference and pliability deserve that it should also be better in consequence? I now end it as I determined to end it when I first conceived the story.

Journal, 1868.

April 25.—Finished the last dialogue between Silva and Fedalma. Mr. and Mrs. Burne Jones dined with us.

April 29.—Finished "The Spanish Gypsy."

Letter to John Blackwood, 29th Aug. 1868.

I send you by to-day's post the conclusion of the poem in MS., and the eighteen sheets of revise. The last book is brief, but I may truly use the old epigram—that it would have taken less time to make it longer. It is a great bore that the name of my heroine is wrongly spelled in all the earlier sheets. It is a fresh proof of the fallibility of our impressions as to our own doings, that I would have confidently affirmed the name to be spelled Fedalma (as it ought to be) in my [30] manuscript. Yet I suppose I should have affirmed falsely, for the i occurs in the slips constantly.

As I shall not see these paged sheets again, will you charitably assure me that the alterations are safely made?

Among my wife's papers were four or five pages of MS. headed, "Notes on the Spanish Gypsy and Tragedy in General." There is no evidence as to the date at which this fragment was written, and it seems to have been left unfinished. But there was evidently some care to preserve it; and as I think she would not have objected to its presentation, I give it here exactly as it stands. It completes the history of the poem.

Notes on "The Spanish Gypsy."

The subject of "The Spanish Gypsy" was originally suggested to me by a picture which hangs in the Scuola di' San Rocco at Venice, over the door of the large Sala containing Tintoretto's frescoes. It is an Annunciation, said to be by Titian. Of course I had seen numerous pictures of this subject before; and the subject had always attracted me. But in this my second visit to the Scuola di' San Rocco, this small picture of Titian's, pointed out to me for the first time, brought a new train of thought. It occurred to me that here was a great dramatic motive of the same class as those used by the Greek dramatists, yet specifically differing from them. A young maiden, believing herself to be on the eve of the chief event of her life—marriage—about to share in the ordinary lot of womanhood, full of young hope, has suddenly announced to her that she is chosen to fulfil a great destiny, entailing a terribly different experience from that of ordinary womanhood. She is chosen, not by any momentary arbitrariness, but as a result of foregoing hereditary conditions: she obeys. [31] "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." Here, I thought, is a subject grander than that of Iphigenia, and it has never been used. I came home with this in my mind, meaning to give the motive a clothing in some suitable set of historical and local conditions. My reflections brought me nothing that would serve me except that moment in Spanish history when the struggle with the Moors was attaining its climax, and when there was the gypsy race present under such conditions as would enable me to get my heroine and the hereditary claim on her among the gypsies. I required the opposition of race to give the need for renouncing the expectation of marriage. I could not use the Jews or the Moors, because the facts of their history were too conspicuously opposed to the working-out of my catastrophe. Meanwhile the subject had become more and more pregnant to me. I saw it might be taken as a symbol of the part which is played in the general human lot by hereditary conditions in the largest sense, and of the fact that what we call duty is entirely made up of such conditions; for even in cases of just antagonism to the narrow view of hereditary claims, the whole background of the particular struggle is made up of our inherited nature. Suppose for a moment that our conduct at great epochs was determined entirely by reflection, without the immediate intervention of feeling, which supersedes reflection, our determination as to the right would consist in an adjustment of our individual needs to the dire necessities of our lot, partly as to our natural constitution, partly as sharers of life with our fellow-beings. Tragedy consists in the terrible difficulty of this adjustment—

"The dire strife of poor Humanity's afflicted will,
Struggling in vain with ruthless destiny."

Looking at individual lots, I seemed to see in each the same story, wrought out with more or less of tragedy, and I determined the elements of my drama under the influence of these ideas.

In order to judge properly of the dramatic structure it must not be considered first in the light of doctrinal symbolism, but in the light of a tragedy representing some grand collision in the human lot. And it must be judged accordingly. A good tragic subject must represent a possible, sufficiently probable, not a common, action; and to be really tragic, it must represent irreparable collision between the individual and the general (in differing degrees of generality). It is the individual with whom we sympathize, and the general of which we recognize the irresistible power. The truth of this test will be seen by applying it to the greatest tragedies. The collision of Greek tragedy is often that between hereditary, entailed Nemesis and the peculiar individual lot, awakening our sympathy, of the particular man or woman whom the Nemesis is shown to grasp with terrific force. Sometimes, as in the Oresteia, there is the clashing of two irreconcilable requirements, two duties, as we should say in these times. The murder of the father must be avenged by the murder of the mother, which must again be avenged. These two tragic relations of the individual and general, and of two irreconcilable "oughts," may be—will be—seen to be almost always combined. The Greeks were not taking an artificial, entirely erroneous standpoint in their art—a standpoint which disappeared altogether with their religion and their art. They had the same essential elements of life presented to them as we have, and their art symbolized these in grand schematic forms. The Prometheus represents the ineffectual [33] struggle to redeem the small and miserable race of man, against the stronger adverse ordinances that govern the frame of things with a triumphant power. Coming to modern tragedies, what is it that makes Othello a great tragic subject? A story simply of a jealous husband is elevated into a most pathetic tragedy by the hereditary conditions of Othello's lot, which give him a subjective ground for distrust. Faust, Rigoletto (Le Roi s'Amuse), Brutus. It might be a reasonable ground of objection against the whole structure of "The Spanish Gypsy" if it were shown that the action is outrageously improbable—lying outside all that can be congruously conceived of human actions. It is not a reasonable ground of objection that they would have done better to act otherwise, any more than it is a reasonable objection against the Iphigenia that Agamemnon would have done better not to sacrifice his daughter.

As renunciations coming under the same great class, take the renunciation of marriage, where marriage cannot take place without entailing misery on the children.

A tragedy has not to expound why the individual must give way to the general; it has to show that it is compelled to give way; the tragedy consisting in the struggle involved, and often in the entirely calamitous issue in spite of a grand submission. Silva presents the tragedy of entire rebellion; Fedalma of a grand submission, which is rendered vain by the effects of Silva's rebellion. Zarca, the struggle for a great end, rendered vain by the surrounding conditions of life.

Now, what is the fact about our individual lots? A woman, say, finds herself on the earth with an inherited organization; she may be lame, she may inherit a disease, [34] or what is tantamount to a disease; she may be a negress, or have other marks of race repulsive in the community where she is born, etc. One may go on for a long while without reaching the limits of the commonest inherited misfortunes. It is almost a mockery to say to such human beings, "Seek your own happiness." The utmost approach to well-being that can be made in such a case is through large resignation and acceptance of the inevitable, with as much effort to overcome any disadvantage as good sense will show to be attended with a likelihood of success. Any one may say, that is the dictate of mere rational reflection. But calm can, in hardly any human organism, be attained by rational reflection. Happily, we are not left to that. Love, pity, constituting sympathy, and generous joy with regard to the lot of our fellow-men comes in—has been growing since the beginning—enormously enhanced by wider vision of results, by an imagination actively interested in the lot of mankind generally; and these feelings become piety—i.e., loving, willing submission and heroic Promethean effort towards high possibilities, which may result from our individual life.

There is really no moral "sanction" but this inward impulse. The will of God is the same thing as the will of other men, compelling us to work and avoid what they have seen to be harmful to social existence. Disjoined from any perceived good, the divine will is simply so much as we have ascertained of the facts of existence which compel obedience at our peril. Any other notion comes from the supposition of arbitrary revelation.

That favorite view, expressed so often in Clough's poems, of doing duty in blindness as to the result, is [35] likely to deepen the substitution of egoistic yearnings for really moral impulses. We cannot be utterly blind to the results of duty, since that cannot be duty which is not already judged to be for human good. To say the contrary is to say that mankind have reached no inductions as to what is for their good or evil.

The art which leaves the soul in despair is laming to the soul, and is denounced by the healthy sentiment of an active community. The consolatory elements in "The Spanish Gypsy" are derived from two convictions or sentiments which so conspicuously pervade it that they may be said to be its very warp, on which the whole action is woven. These are: (1) The importance of individual deeds. (2) The all-sufficiency of the soul's passions in determining sympathetic action.

In Silva is presented the claim of fidelity to social pledges. In Fedalma the claim constituted by an hereditary lot less consciously shared.

With regard to the supremacy of love: if it were a fact without exception that man or woman never did renounce the joys of love, there could never have sprung up a notion that such renunciation could present itself as a duty. If no parents had ever cared for their children, how could parental affection have been reckoned among the elements of life? But what are the facts in relation to this matter? Will any one say that faithfulness to the marriage tie has never been regarded as a duty, in spite of the presence of the profoundest passion experienced after marriage? Is Guinivere's conduct the type of duty?

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 7th May, 1868.

Yes, I am at rest now—only a few pages of revise to look at more. My chief excitement and pleasure [36] in the work are over: for when I have once written anything, and it is gone out of my power, I think of it as little as possible. Next to the doing of the thing, of course, Mr. Lewes's delight in it is the cream of all sympathy, though I care enough about the sympathy of others to be very grateful for any they give me. Don't you imagine how the people who consider writing simply as a money-getting profession will despise me for choosing a work by which I could only get hundreds, where for a novel I could get thousands? I cannot help asking you to admire what my husband is, compared with many possible husbands—I mean, in urging me to produce a poem rather than anything in a worldly sense more profitable. I expect a good deal of disgust to be felt towards me in many quarters for doing what was not looked for from me, and becoming unreadable to many who have hitherto found me readable and debatable. Religion and novels every ignorant person feels competent to give an opinion upon, but en fait de poésie, a large number of them "only read Shakespeare." But enough of that.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 25th May, 1868.

Before we set off to Germany I want to tell you that a copy of "The Spanish Gypsy" will be sent to you. If there had been time before our going away I should have written on the fly-leaf that it was offered by the author "in grateful remembrance." For I especially desire that you should understand my reasons for asking you to accept the book to be retrospective and not prospective.

And I am going out of reach of all letters, so that you are free from any need to write to me, and may let the book lie till you like to open it.

I give away my books only by exception, and in venturing to make you an exceptional person in this [37] matter, I am urged by the strong wish to express my value for the help and sympathy you gave me two years ago.

The manuscript of "The Spanish Gypsy" bears the following inscription:

"To my dear—every day dearer—Husband."

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 26th (?) May, 1868.

Yes, indeed, I not only remember your letter, but have always kept it at hand, and have read it many times. Within these latter months I have seemed to see in the distance a possible poem shaped on your idea. But it would be better for you to encourage the growth towards realization in your own mind, rather than trust to transplantation.

My own faint conception is that of a frankly Utopian construction, freeing the poet from all local embarrassments. Great epics have always been more or less of this character—only the construction has been of the past, not of the future.

Write to me Poste Restante, Baden-Baden, within the next fortnight. My head will have got clearer then.

Journal, 1868.

May 26.—We set out this evening on our journey to Baden, spending the night at Dover. Our route was by Tournay, Liége, Bonn, and Frankfort, to Baden, where we stayed nine days; then to Petersthal, where we stayed three weeks; then to Freiburg, St. Märgen, Basle, Thun, and Interlaken. From Interlaken we came by Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Dijon, to Paris and Folkestone.

Letter to John Blackwood, 7th July, 1868.

We got your letter yesterday here among the peaceful mountain-tops. After ascending gradually (in a carriage) for nearly four hours, we found ourselves in a region of grass, corn, and pine woods, so beautifully varied that we seem to be walking in a great park laid [38] out for our special delight. The monks, as usual, found out the friendly solitude, and this place of St. Märgen was originally nothing but an Augustinian monastery. About three miles off is another place of like origin, called St. Peter's, formerly a Benedictine monastery, and still used as a place of preparation for the Catholic priesthood. The monks have all vanished, but the people are devout Catholics. At every half-mile by the roadside is a carefully kept crucifix; and last night, as we were having our supper in the common room of the inn, we suddenly heard sounds that seemed to me like those of an accordion. "Is that a zittern?" said Mr. Lewes to the German lady by his side. "No—it is prayer." The servants, by themselves—the host and hostess were in the same room with us—were saying their evening prayers, men's and women's voices blending in unusually correct harmony. The same loud prayer is heard at morning, noon, and evening, from the shepherds and workers in the fields. We suppose that the believers in Mr. Home and in Madame Rachel would pronounce these people "grossly superstitious." The land is cultivated by rich peasant proprietors, and the people here, as in Petersthal, look healthy and contented. This really adds to one's pleasure in seeing natural beauties. In North Germany, at Ilmenau, we were constantly pained by meeting peasants who looked underfed and miserable. Unhappily, the weather is too cold and damp, and our accommodations are too scanty, under such circumstances, for us to remain here and enjoy the endless walks and the sunsets that would make up for other negatives in fine, warm weather. We return to Freiburg to-morrow, and from thence we shall go on by easy stages through Switzerland, by Thun [39] and Vevay to Geneva, where I want to see my old friends once more.

We shall be so constantly on the move that it might be a vain trouble on your part to shoot another letter after such flying birds.

Journal, 1868.

July 23.—Arrived at home (from Baden journey).

Letter to John Blackwood, 24th July, 1868.

We got home last night—sooner than we expected, because we gave up the round by Geneva, as too long and exciting. I dare say the three weeks since we heard from you seem very short to you, passed amid your usual occupations. To us they seem long, for we have been constantly changing our scene. Our two months have been spent delightfully in seeing fresh natural beauties, and with the occasional cheering influence of kind people. But I think we were hardly ever, except in Spain, so long ignorant of home sayings and doings, for we have been chiefly in regions innocent even of Galignani. The weather with us has never been oppressively hot; and storms or quiet rains have been frequent. But our bit of burned-up lawn is significant of the dryness here. I believe I did not thank you for the offer of "Kinglake," which we gratefully accept. And will you kindly order a copy of the poem to be sent to Gerald Massey, Hemel-Hempstead.

A friendly gentleman at Belfast sends me a list of emendations for some of my verses, which are very characteristic and amusing.

I hope you have kept well through the heat. We are come back in great force, for such feeble wretches.

Letter to John Blackwood, 28th July, 1868.

As to the reviews, we expected them to be written by omniscient personages, but we did not expect so bad a review as that Mr. Lewes found in the Pall Mall. I have read no notice except that in the Spectator, which [40] was modest in tone. A very silly gentleman, Mr. Lewes says, undertakes to admonish me in the Westminster; and he thinks the best literary notice of the poem that has come before him is in the Athenæum. After all, I think there would have been good reason to doubt that the poem had either novelty or any other considerable intrinsic reason to justify its being written, if the periodicals had cried out "Hosanna!" I am sure you appreciate all the conditions better than I can, after your long experience of the relations between authors and critics. I am serene, because I only expected the unfavorable. To-day the heat is so great that it is hardly possible even to read a book that requires any thought. London is a bad exchange for the mountains.

Letter to John Blackwood, 30th July, 1868.

I enclose a list of corrections for the reprint. I am indebted to my friendly correspondent from Belfast for pointing out several oversights, which I am ashamed of, after all the proof-reading. But, among the well-established truths of which I never doubt, the fallibility of my own brain stands first.

I suppose Mudie and the other librarians will not part with their copies of the poems quite as soon as they would part with their more abundant copies of a novel. And this supposition, if warranted, would be an encouragement to reprint another moderate edition at the same price. Perhaps, before a cheaper edition is prepared, I may add to the corrections, but at present my mind resists strongly the effort to go back on its old work.

I think I never mentioned to you that the occasional use of irregular verses, and especially verses of twelve syllables, has been a principle with me, and is found in all the finest writers of blank verse. I mention it now because, as you have a certain solidarité with my [41] poetical doings, I would not have your soul vexed by the detective wisdom of critics. Do you happen to remember that saying of Balzac's, "When I want the world to praise my novels I write a drama; when I want them to praise my drama I write a novel"?

On the whole, however, I should think I have more to be grateful for than to grumble at. Mr. Lewes read me out last night some very generous passages from the St. Paul's Magazine.

Journal, 1868.

August.—Reading 1st book of Lucretius, 6th book of the "Iliad," "Samson Agonistes," Warton's "History of English Poetry," Grote, 2d volume, "Marcus Aurelius," "Vita Nuova," vol. iv. chap. i. of the "Politique Positive," Guest on "English Rhythms," Maurice's "Lectures on Casuistry."

Sept. 19.—We returned from a visit to Yorkshire. On Monday we went to Leeds, and were received by Dr. Clifford Allbut, with whom we stayed till the middle of the day on Wednesday. Then we went by train to Ilkley, and from thence took a carriage to Bolton. The weather had been gray for two days, but on this evening the sun shone out, and we had a delightful stroll before dinner, getting our first view of the Priory. On Thursday we spent the whole day in rambling through the woods to Barden Tower and back. Our comfortable little inn was the Red Lion, and we were tempted to lengthen our stay. But on Friday morning the sky was threatening, so we started for Newark, which we had visited in old days on our expedition to Gainsborough. At Newark we found our old inn, the Ram, opposite the ruins of the castle, and then we went for a stroll along the banks of the Trent, seeing some charming, quiet landscapes.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 20th Sept. 1868.

This note comes to greet you on your return home, [42] but it cannot greet you so sweetly as your letter did me on our arrival from Leeds last night. I think it gave me a deeper pleasure than any I have had for a long while. I am very grateful to you for it.

We went to Leeds on Monday, and stayed two days with Dr. Allbut. Dr. Bridges dined with us one day, and we had a great deal of delightful chat. But I will tell you everything when we see you. Let that be soon—will you not? We shall be glad of any arrangement that will give us the pleasure of seeing you, Dr. Congreve, and Emily, either separately or all together. Please forgive me if I seem very fussy about your all coming. I want you to understand that we shall feel it the greatest kindness in you if you will all choose to come, and also choose how to come—either to lunch or dinner, and either apart or together. I hope to find that you are much the better for your journey—better both in body and soul. One has immense need of encouragement, but it seems to come more easily from the dead than from the living.

Letter to John Blackwood, 24th Sept. 1868.

Your letter gave an additional gusto to my tea and toast this morning. The greater confidence of the trade in subscribing for the second edition is, on several grounds, a satisfactory indication; but, as you observe, we shall be still better pleased to know that the copies are not slumbering on the counters, but having an active life in the hands of readers.

I am now going carefully through the poem for the sake of correction. I have read it through once, and have at present found some ten or twelve small alterations to be added to those already made. But I shall go through it again more than once, for I wish to be able to put "revised" to the third edition, and to leave nothing that my conscience is not ready to swear by. I [43] think it will be desirable for me to see proofs. It is possible, in many closely consecutive readings, not to see errors which strike one immediately on taking up the pages after a good long interval.

We are feeling much obliged for a copy of "Kinglake," which I am reading aloud to Mr. Lewes as a part of our evening's entertainment and edification, beginning again from the beginning.

This week we have had perfect autumnal days, though last week, when we were in Yorkshire, we also thought that the time of outside chills and inside fires was beginning.

We do not often see a place which is a good foil for London, but certainly Leeds is in a lower circle of the great town—Inferno.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 25th Sept. 1868.

I can imagine how delicious your country home has been under the glorious skies we have been having—glorious even in London. Yesterday we had Dr. and Mrs. Congreve, and went with them to the Zoological Gardens, and on our return, about 5 o'clock, I could not help pausing and exclaiming at the exquisite beauty of the light on Regent's Park, exalting it into something that the young Turner would have wanted to paint.

We went to Leeds last week—saw your favorite, David Cox, and thought of you the while. Certainly there was nothing finer there in landscape than that Welsh funeral. Among the figure-painters, Watts and old Philip are supreme.

We went on from Leeds to Bolton, and spent a day in wandering through the grand woods on the banks of the Wharfe. Altogether, our visit to Yorkshire was extremely agreeable. Our host, Dr. Allbut, is a good, clever, graceful man, enough to enable one to be cheerful under the horrible smoke of ugly Leeds; and the [44] fine hospital, which, he says, is admirably fitted for its purpose, is another mitigation. You would like to see the tasteful, subdued ornamentation in the rooms which are to be sick wards. Each physician is accumulating ornamental objects for his own ward—chromo-lithographs, etc.—such as will soothe sick eyes.

It was quite cold in that northerly region. Your picture keeps a memory of sunshine on my wall even on this dark morning.

Letter to John Blackwood, 21st Oct. 1868.

I have gone through the poem twice for the sake of revision, and have a crop of small corrections—only in one case extending to the insertion of a new line. But I wish to see the proof-sheets, so that "Revised by the Author" may be put in the advertisement and on the title-page.

Unhappily, my health has been unusually bad since we returned from abroad, so that the time has been a good deal wasted on the endurance of malaise; but I am brooding over many things, and hope that coming months will not be barren. As to the criticisms, I suppose that better poets than I have gone through worse receptions. In spite of my reason and of my low expectations, I am too susceptible to all discouragement not to have been depressingly affected by some few things in the shape of criticism which I have been obliged to know. Yet I am ashamed of caring about anything that cannot be taken as strict evidence against the value of my book. So far as I have been able to understand, there is a striking disagreement among the reviewers as to what is best and what is worst; and the weight of agreement, even on the latter point, is considerably diminished by the reflection that three different reviews may be three different phases of the same gentleman, taking the opportunity of earning as [45] many guineas as he can by making easy remarks on George Eliot. But, as dear Scott's characters say, "Let that fly stick in the wa'—when the dirt's dry, it'll rub out." I shall look at "Doubles and Quits," as you recommend. I read the two first numbers of "Madame Amelia," and thought them promising.

I sympathize with your melancholy at the prospect of quitting the country; though, compared with London, beautiful Edinburgh is country. Perhaps some good, thick mists will come to reconcile you with the migration.

We have been using the fine autumn days for flights into Kent between Sundays. The rich woods about Sevenoaks and Chislehurst are a delight to the eyes, and the stillness is a rest to every nerve.

Journal, 1868.

Oct. 22.—Received a letter from Blackwood, saying that "The Spanish Gypsy" must soon go into a third edition. I sent my corrections for it.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 27th Oct. 1868.

At last I have spirit enough in me to thank you for your valuable gift, which Emily kindly brought me in her hand. I am grateful for it—not only because the medallion[5] is a possession which I shall always hold precious, but also because you thought of me among those whom you would choose to be its owners.

I hope you are able to enjoy some walking in these sunshiny mornings. We had a long drive round by Hendon and Finchley yesterday morning, and drank so much clear air and joy from the sight of trees and fields that I am quite a new-old creature.

I think you will not be sorry to hear that the "Spanish Gypsy" is so nearly out of print again that the publishers are preparing a new, cheaper edition. The [46] second edition was all bought up (subscribed for) by the booksellers the first day.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 30th Oct. 1868.

Your pretty letter is irresistible. May we then be with you on Tuesday somewhere about twelve, and return home on Wednesday by afternoon daylight? If the weather should be very cold or wet on Tuesday we must renounce or defer our pleasure, because we are both too rickety to run the risk of taking cold. So you see we are very much in need of such sweet friendliness as yours gives us faith in, to keep us cheerful under the burden of the flesh.

Journal, 1868.

Nov. 3.—Went to dine and sleep at the Congreves, at Wandsworth.

Nov. 4.—We set off for Sheffield, where we went over a great iron and steel factory under the guidance of Mr. Benzon. On Saturday, the 7th, we went to Matlock and stayed till Tuesday. I recognized the objects which I had seen with my father nearly thirty years before—the turn of the road at Cromford, the Arkwrights' house, and the cottages with the stone floors chalked in patterns. The landscape was still rich with autumn leaves.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, Thursday evening, 12th Nov. 1868.

We got home last night after delicious days spent at Matlock. I was so renovated that my head was clearer, and I was more unconscious of my body than at the best of times for many months. But it seemed suddenly colder when we were in London, and old uneasy sensations are revisiting us both to-day.

I wonder whether you will soon want to come to town, and will send me word that you will come and take shelter with us for the night? The bed is no softer and no broader; but will you not be tempted by a new carpet and a new bit of matting for your bath?—perhaps there will even be a new fender? If you want to shop, I will take you in the brougham. [47]

I think you will be just able to make out this note, written by a sudden impulse on my knee over the fire.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 16th Nov. 1868.

No oracle would dare to predict what will be our next migration. Don't be surprised if we go to the borders of the White Sea, to escape the fitful fast and loose, hot and cold, of the London climate.

We enjoyed our journey to the north. It was a great experience to me to see the stupendous iron-works at Sheffield; and then, for a variety, we went to the quiet and beauty of Matlock, and I recognized all the spots I had carried in my memory for more than five-and-twenty years. I drove through that region with my father when I was a young grig—not very full of hope about my woman's future. I am one of those perhaps exceptional people whose early, childish dreams were much less happy than the real outcome of life.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Nov. 1868.

I think your birthday comes after mine; but I am determined to write beforehand to prove to you that I bear you in my thoughts without any external reminder.

I suppose we are both getting too old to care about being wished many happy returns of the day. We shall be content to wish each other as many more years as can carry with them some joy and calm satisfaction in the sense of living. But there is one definite prospect for you which I may fairly hope for, as I do most tenderly—the prospect that this time next year you will be looking back on your achieved work as a good seed-sowing. Some sadness there must always be in saying good-bye to a work which is done with love; but there may—I trust there will—be a compensating good in feeling that the thing you yearned to do is gone safely out of reach of casualties that might have cut it short.[48]

We have been to Sheffield at the seducing invitation of a friend, who showed us the miraculous iron-works there; and afterwards we turned aside to beautiful Matlock, where I found again the spots, the turns of road, the rows of stone cottages, the rushing river Derwent, and the Arkwright mills—among which I drove with my father when I was in my teens. We had glorious weather, and I was quite regenerated by the bracing air. Our friend Mr. Spencer is growing younger with the years. He really looks brighter and more enjoying than he ever did before, since he was in the really young, happy time of fresh discussion and inquiry. His is a friendship which wears well, because of his truthfulness. He always asks with sympathetic interest how you are going on.

Journal, 1868.

Nov. 22.—The return of this St. Cecilia's Day finds me in better health than has been usual with me in these last six months. But I am not yet engaged in any work that makes a higher life for me—a life that is young and grows, though in my other life I am getting old and decaying. It is a day for resolves and determinations. I am meditating the subject of Timoleon.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 30th Nov. 1868.

I like to think of you painting the physiological charts, although they tire your eyes a little; for you must be sure that the good of such work is of a kind that goes deep into young lives. "Fearfully and wonderfully made" are words quite unshaken by any theory as to the making; and I think a great awe in the contemplation of man's delicate structure, freighted with terrible destinies, is one of the most important parts of education. A much-writing acquaintance of ours one day expressed his alarm for "the masses" at the departure of a religion which had terror in it. Surely [49] terror is provided for sufficiently in this life of ours—if only the dread could be directed towards the really dreadful.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 12th Dec. 1868.

We have been having a little company, and are rejoicing to think that our duties of this sort are done for the present. We like our studies and our dual solitude too well to feel company desirable more than one day a-week. I wish our affection may be with you as some little cheering influence through the dark months. We hardly estimate enough the difference of feeling that would come to us if we did not imagine friendly souls scattered here and there in places that make the chief part of the world so far as we have known it.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 16th Dec. 1868.

Tell Dr. Congreve that the "mass of positivism," in the shape of "The Spanish Gypsy," is so rapidly finding acceptance with the public that the second edition, being all sold, the third, just published, has already been demanded to above 700. Do not think that I am becoming an egotistical author. The news concerns the doctrine, not the writer.

Letter to the Brays, 19th Dec. 1868.

I am moved to congratulate you on writing against the ballot with such admirably good sense—having just read your "slip" at the breakfast-table. It has been a source of amazement to me that men acquainted with practical life can believe in the suppression of bribery by the ballot, as if bribery in all its Protean forms could ever disappear by means of a single external arrangement. They might as well say that our female vanity would disappear at an order that women should wear felt hats and cloth dresses. It seems to me that you have put the main unanswerable arguments against the ballot with vigorous brevity.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 29th Dec. 1868.

Thanks for letting me know about the meeting. I [50] shall not be able to join it bodily, but I am glad always to have the possibility of being with you in thought. I have a twofold sympathy on the occasion, for I cannot help entering specially into your own wifely anxieties, and I shall be glad to be assured that Dr. Congreve has borne the excitement without being afterwards conscious of an excessive strain.

Journal, 1868.

Dec. 30.—I make to-day the last record that I shall enter of the old year 1868. It has been as rich in blessings as any preceding year of our double life, and I enjoy a more and more even cheerfulness and continually increasing power of dwelling on the good that is given to me and dismissing the thought of small evils. The chief event of the year to us has been the publication and friendly reception by the public of "The Spanish Gypsy." The greatest happiness (after our growing love) which has sprung and flowed onward during the latter part of the year is George's interest in his psychological inquiries. I have, perhaps, gained a little higher ground and firmer footing in some studies, notwithstanding the yearly loss of retentive power. We have made some new friendships that cheer us with the sense of new admiration of actual living beings whom we know in the flesh, and who are kindly disposed towards us. And we have had no real trouble. I wish we were not in a minority of our fellow-men! I desire no added blessing for the coming year but this—that I may do some good, lasting work, and make both my outward and inward habits less imperfect—that is, more directly tending to the best uses of life.

Letter to John Blackwood, 31st Dec. 1868.

Many thanks for the check, which I received yesterday afternoon. Mr. Lewes is eminently satisfied with the sales; and, indeed, it does appear from authoritative [51] testimony that the number sold is unusually large even for what is called a successful poem.

The cheap edition of the novels is so exceptionally attractive in print, paper, and binding, for 3s. 6d., that I cannot help fretting a little at its not getting a more rapid sale. The fact rather puzzles me, too, in presence of the various proofs that the books really are liked. I suppose there is some mystery of reduced prices accounting for the abundant presentation of certain works and series on the bookstalls at the railways, and the absence of others, else surely those pretty volumes would have a good chance of being bought by the travellers whose taste shrinks from the diabolical red-and-yellow-pictured series. I am sure you must often be in a state of wonderment as to how the business of the world gets done so as not to ruin two thirds of the people concerned in it; for, judging from the silly propositions and requests sometimes made to me by bald-headed, experienced men, there must be a very thin allowance of wisdom to the majority of their transactions.

Mr. Lewes is attracted by the biographical studies of George the Second's time; but last night, after he had done reading about Berkeley, I heard him laughing over "Doubles and Quits." It is agreeable to think that I have that bit of cheerful reading in store.

Our first snow fell yesterday, and melted immediately. This morning the sun is warm on me as I write. The doctors say that the season has been horribly unhealthy, and that they have been afraid to perform some operations from the low state of vitality in the patients, due to the atmospheric conditions. This looks like very wise writing, and worthy of Molière's "Médecin."[52]

Mr. Lewes joins me in sincere good wishes to Mr. William Blackwood, as well as yourself, for the coming year—wishes for general happiness. The chief, particular wish would be that we should all in common look back next Christmas on something achieved in which we share each other's satisfaction.

Letter to Hon. Robert Lytton (now Lord Lytton). No date. Probably in 1868.

I am much obliged to you for mentioning, in your letter to Mr. Lewes, the two cases of inaccuracy (I fear there may be more) which you remembered in the "Spanish Gypsy." How I came to write Zincálo instead of Zíncalo is an instance which may be added to many sadder examples of that mental infirmity which makes our senses of little use to us in the presence of a strong prepossession. As soon as I had conceived my story with its gypsy element, I tried to learn all I could about the names by which the gypsies called themselves, feeling that I should occasionally need a musical name, remote from the vulgar English associations which cling to "gypsy." I rejected Gitana, because I found that the gypsies themselves held the name to be opprobrious; and Zíncalo—which, with a fine capacity for being wrong, I at once got into my head as Zincálo—seemed to be, both in sound and meaning, just what I wanted. Among the books from which I made notes was "Pott, die Zigeuner," etc.; and in these notes I find that I have copied the sign of the tonic accent in Romanó, while in the very same sentence I have not copied it in Zíncalo, though a renewed reference to Pott shows it in the one word as well as the other. But "my eyes were held"—by a demon prepossession—"so that I should not see it." Behold the fallibility of the human brain, and especially of George Eliot's.

I have been questioned about my use of Andalus [53] for Andalusia, but I had a sufficient authority for that in the "Mohammedan Dynasties," translated by Gayangos.

It may interest you, who are familiar with Spanish literature, to know that after the first sketch of my book was written I read Cervantes' novel "La Gitanélla," where the hero turns gypsy for love. The novel promises well in the earlier part, but falls into sad commonplace towards the end. I have written my explanation partly to show how much I value your kind help towards correcting my error, and partly to prove that I was not careless, but simply stupid. For in authorship I hold carelessness to be a mortal sin.




Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Mr. Lewes's return from Bonn—First visit to Cambridge—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Month's visit to Torquay—Letter to Miss Hennell—Reading the "Iliad"—Letter to John Blackwood—Title of "Spanish Gypsy"—Letter to Madame Bodichon—Women's work—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—England and Ireland—Translation of the "Politique"—Return to London from Torquay—Letter to John Blackwood—Ending of "Spanish Gypsy"—The poem finished—George Eliot's "Notes on the Spanish Gypsy and Tragedy in general"—Suggestion of the poem an Annunciation by Titian, at Venice—Motive—Hereditary conditions—Gypsy race—Determination of conduct—Nature of tragedy—Collision between the individual and the general—Greek tragedy—Hereditary misfortunes—Growth of human sympathy—Moral sanction is obedience to facts—Duty what tends to human good—Letter to Mrs. Bray on the writing of poetry instead of novels—Letter to F. Harrison presenting copy of "Spanish Gypsy"—Inscription on MS. of "Spanish Gypsy"—Letter to F. Harrison on suggestion of a poem—Six weeks' journey to Baden, etc.—Letter to John Blackwood from St. Märgen—Catholic worship—Return to London—Letters to John Blackwood—Pall Mall review of "Spanish Gypsy"—Saying of Balzac—Letter to William Blackwood—Versification—Reading Lucretius, Homer, Milton, Warton, Marcus Aurelius, Dante, Comte, Guest, Maurice—Visit to Dr. Clifford Allbut at Leeds—Visit to Newark—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Letters to John Blackwood—Second edition of "Spanish Gypsy"—"Kinglake"—Criticisms on "Spanish Gypsy"—Visit to the Congreves—Visit to Sheffield with Mr. Benzon—Matlock—Letters to Madame Bodichon and Miss Hennell on Sheffield journey—Herbert Spencer—Meditating subject of Timoleon—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Physiological charts—Letter to Madame Bodichon on influence of friends—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Positivism in "Spanish Gypsy"—Letter to Charles Bray on vote by ballot—Retrospect of 1868—Letter to John Blackwood—The cheap edition of novels—Letter to the Hon. Robert Lytton—Pronunciation in "Spanish Gypsy"—Cervantes' "La Gitanélla."



Journal, 1869.

Jan. 1.—I have set myself many tasks for the year—I wonder how many will be accomplished?—a novel called "Middlemarch," a long poem on Timoleon, and several minor poems.

Jan. 23.—Since I wrote last I have finished a little poem on old Agatha. But the last week or two I have been so disturbed in health that no work prospers. I have made a little way in constructing my new tale; have been reading a little on philology; have finished the 24th Book of the "Iliad," the 1st Book of the "Faery Queene," Clough's poems, and a little about Etruscan things, in Mrs. Grey and Dennis. Aloud to G. I have been reading some Italian, Ben Jonson's "Alchemist" and "Volpone," and Bright's speeches, which I am still reading, besides the first four cantos of "Don Juan." But the last two or three days I have seemed to live under a leaden pressure—all movement, mental or bodily, is grievous to me. In the evening read aloud Bright's fourth speech on India, and a story in Italian. In the Spectator some interesting facts about loss of memory and "double life." In the Revue des Cours, a lecture by Sir W. Thomson, of Edinburgh, on the retardation of the earth's motion round its axis.

Jan. 27.—The last two days I have been writing a rhymed poem on Boccaccio's story of "Lisa." Aloud I have read Bright's speeches, and "I Promessi Sposi." To myself I have read Mommsen's "Rome." [56]

Feb. 6.—We went to the third concert. Madame Schumann played finely in Mendelssohn's quintet, and a trio of Beethoven's. As a solo she played the sonata in D minor. In the evening I read aloud a short speech of Bright's on Ireland, delivered twenty years ago, in which he insists that nothing will be a remedy for the woes of that country unless the Church Establishment be annulled: after the lapse of twenty years the measure is going to be adopted. Then I read aloud a bit of the "Promessi Sposi," and afterwards the Spectator, in which there is a deservedly high appreciation of Lowell's poems.

Feb. 14.—Finished the poem from Boccaccio. We had rather a numerous gathering of friends to-day, and among the rest came Browning, who talked and quoted admirably à propos of versification. The Rector of Lincoln thinks the French have the most perfect system of versification in these modern times!

Feb. 15.—I prepared and sent off "How Lisa Loved the King" to Edinburgh.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th Feb. 1869.

I have looked back to the verses in Browning's poem about Elisha, and I find no mystery in them. The foregoing context for three pages describes that function of genius which revivifies the past. Man, says Browning (I am writing from recollection of his general meaning), cannot create, but he can restore: the poet gives forth of his own spirit, and reanimates the forms that lie breathless. His use of Elisha's story is manifestly symbolical, as his mention of Faust is—the illustration which he abandons the moment before to take up that of the Hebrew seer. I presume you did not read the context yourself, but only had the two concluding verses pointed out or quoted to you by your friends. It is one of the afflictions of [57] authorship to know that the brains which should be used in understanding a book are wasted in discussing the hastiest misconceptions about it; and I am sure you will sympathize enough in this affliction to set any one right, when you can, about this quotation from Browning.

Journal, 1869.

Feb. 20.—A glorious concert: Hallé, Joachim, and Piatti winding up with Schubert's trio.

Feb. 21.—Mr. Deutsch and Mrs. Pattison lunched with us—he in farewell before going to the East. A rather pleasant gathering of friends afterwards.

Feb. 24.—I am reading about plants, and Helmholtz on music. A new idea of a poem came to me yesterday.

March 3.—We started on our fourth visit to Italy, viâ France and the Cornice.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 4th May, 1869, from Paris.

I found your letter at Florence on our arrival there (on the 23d); but until now bodily ease and leisure enough to write to you have never happened to me in the same moments. Our long journey since we left home on the 3d March, seen from a point of view which, happily, no one shares with me, has been a history of ailments. In shunning the English March, we found one quite as disagreeable, without the mitigation of home comforts; and though we went even as far as Naples in search of warmth, we never found it until we settled in Rome, at the beginning of April. Here we had many days of unbroken sunshine, and enjoyed what we were never able to enjoy during our month's stay in 1860—the many glorious views of the city and the mountains. The chief novelty to us in our long route has been the sight of Assisi and Ravenna; the rest has been a revisiting of scenes already in our memories; and to most of them we have probably [58] said our last good-bye. Enough of us and our travels. The only remarkable thing people can tell of their doings in these days is that they have stayed at home.

The Fortnightly lay uncut at Mr. Trollope's, and Mr. Lewes had nothing more pressing to do than to cut it open at the reply to Professor Huxley.[6] He presently came to me, and said it was excellent. It delighted him the more because he had just before, at Rome, alighted on the Pall Mall account of the article, which falsely represented it as entirely apologetic. At the first spare moment I plunged into an easy-chair, and read, with thorough satisfaction in the admirable temper and the force of the reply. We intend to start for Calais this evening; and as the rain prevents us from doing anything agreeable out of doors, I have nothing to hinder me from sitting, with my knees up to my chin, and scribbling, now that I am become a little sounder in head and in body generally than beautiful Italy allowed me to be. As beautiful as ever—more beautiful—it has looked to me on this last visit; and it is the fault of my physique if it did not agree with me. Pray offer my warmest sympathy to Dr. Congreve in the anxieties of his difficult task. What hard work it seems to go on living sometimes! Blessed are the dead.

Journal, 1869.

May 5.—We reached home after our nine weeks' absence. In that time we have been through France to Marseilles, along the Cornice to Spezia, then to Pisa, Florence, Naples, Rome, Assisi, Perugia, Florence again, Ravenna, Bologna, Verona; across the Brenner Pass to Munich; then to Paris viâ Strasburg. [59] In such a journey there was necessarily much interest both in renewing old memories and recording new; but I never had such continuous bad health in travelling as I have had during these nine weeks. On our arrival at home I found a delightful letter from Mrs. H. B. Stowe, whom I have never seen, addressing me as her "dear friend."

It was during this journey that I, for the first time, saw my future wife, at Rome. My eldest sister had married Mr. W. H. Bullock (now Mr. W. H. Hall), of Six-Mile-Bottom, Cambridgeshire, and they were on their wedding journey at Rome when they happened to meet Mr. and Mrs. Lewes by chance in the Pamfili Doria Gardens. They saw a good deal of one another, and when I arrived, with my mother and another sister, we went by invitation to call at the Hôtel Minerva, where Mr. Lewes had found rooms on their first arrival in Rome. I have a very vivid recollection of George Eliot sitting on a sofa with my mother by her side, entirely engrossed with her. Mr. Lewes entertained my sister and me on the other side of the room. But I was very anxious to hear also the conversation on the sofa, as I was better acquainted with George Eliot's books than with any other literature. And through the dimness of these fifteen years, and all that has happened in them, I still seem to hear, as I first heard them, the low, earnest, deep, musical tones of her voice; I still seem to see the fine brows, with the abundant auburn-brown hair framing them, the long head, broadening at the back, the gray-blue eyes, constantly changing in expression, but always with a very loving, almost deprecating, look at my mother, [60] the finely-formed, thin, transparent hands, and a whole Wesen that seemed in complete harmony with everything one expected to find in the author of "Romola." The next day Mr. and Mrs. Lewes went on to Assisi and we to Naples, and we did not meet again till the following August at Weybridge.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 8th May, 1869.

I value very highly the warrant to call you friend which your letter has given me. It lay awaiting me on our return, the other night, from a nine weeks' absence in Italy, and it made me almost wish that you could have a momentary vision of the discouragement—nay, paralyzing despondency—in which many days of my writing life have been passed, in order that you might fully understand the good I find in such sympathy as yours—in such an assurance as you give me that my work has been worth doing. But I will not dwell on any mental sickness of mine. The best joy your words give me is the sense of that sweet, generous feeling in you which dictated them, and I shall always be the richer because you have in this way made me know you better. I must tell you that my first glimpse of you as a woman came through a letter of yours, and charmed me very much. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Follen; and one morning when I called on her in London (how many years ago![7]) she was kind enough to read it to me because it contained a little history of your life, and a sketch of your domestic circumstances. I remember thinking that it was very kind of you to write that long letter in reply to the inquiries of one who was personally unknown to you; and looking back with my present experience I [61] think it was still kinder than it then appeared. For at that time you must have been much oppressed with the immediate results of your fame. I remember, too, that you wrote of your husband as one who was richer in Hebrew and Greek than in pounds or shillings; and as the ardent scholar has always been a character of peculiar interest to me, I have rarely had your image in my mind without the accompanying image (more or less erroneous) of such a scholar by your side. I shall welcome the fruit of his Goethe studies, whenever it comes. In the meantime let me assure you that whoever else gave you that description of my husband's "History of Philosophy"—namely, "that it was to solve and settle all things"—he himself never saw it in that light. The work has been greatly altered, as well as enlarged, in three successive editions; and his mind is so far from being a captive to his own written words that he is now engaged in physiological and psychological researches which are leading him to issues at variance in some important respects with the views expressed in some of his published works. He is one of the few human beings I have known who will often, in the heat of an argument, see, and straightway confess, that he is in the wrong, instead of trying to shift his ground or use any other device of vanity.

I have good hopes that your fears are groundless as to the obstacles your new book may find here from its thorough American character. Most readers who are likely to be really influenced by writing above the common order will find that special aspect an added reason for interest and study, and I dare say you have long seen, as I am beginning to see with new clearness, that if a book which has any sort of exquisiteness [62] happens also to be a popular, widely circulated book, its power over the social mind for any good is, after all, due to its reception by a few appreciative natures, and is the slow result of radiation from that narrow circle. I mean, that you can affect a few souls, and that each of these in turn may affect a few more, but that no exquisite book tells properly and directly on a multitude, however largely it may be spread by type and paper. Witness the things the multitude will say about it, if one is so unhappy as to be obliged to hear their sayings. I do not write this cynically, but in pure sadness and pity. Both travelling abroad, and staying at home among our English sights and sports, one must continually feel how slowly the centuries work towards the moral good of men. And that thought lies very close to what you say as to your wonder or conjecture concerning my religious point of view. I believe that religion, too, has to be modified—"developed," according to the dominant phrase—and that a religion more perfect than any yet prevalent must express less care for personal consolation, and a more deeply-awing sense of responsibility to man, springing from sympathy with that which of all things is most certainly known to us, the difficulty of the human lot. I do not find my temple in Pantheism, which, whatever might be its value speculatively, could not yield a practical religion, since it is an attempt to look at the universe from the outside of our relations to it (that universe) as human beings. As healthy, sane human beings, we must love and hate—love what is good for mankind, hate what is evil for mankind. For years of my youth I dwelt in dreams of a pantheistic sort, falsely supposing that I was enlarging my sympathy. But I have travelled far [63] away from that time. Letters are necessarily narrow and fragmentary, and, when one writes on wide subjects, are liable to create more misunderstanding than illumination. But I have little anxiety of that kind in writing to you, dear friend and fellow-laborer, for you have had longer experience than I as a writer, and fuller experience as a woman, since you have borne children and known the mother's history from the beginning. I trust your quick and long-taught mind as an interpreter little liable to mistake me.

When you say, "We live in an orange grove and are planting many more," and when I think that you must have abundant family love to cheer you, it seems to me that you must have a paradise about you. But no list of circumstances will make a paradise. Nevertheless, I must believe that the joyous, tender humor of your books clings about your more immediate life, and makes some of that sunshine for yourself which you have given to us.

I see the advertisement of "Old Town Folk," and shall eagerly expect it.

That and every other new link between us will be reverentially valued.

Journal, 1869.

May 8 (Saturday).—Poor Thornie arrived from Natal, sadly wasted by suffering.

May 24.—Sold "Agatha" to Fields & Osgood, for the Atlantic Monthly, for £300.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 26th May, 1869.

That "disturbance" in my favorite work, with which you and Dr. Congreve are good enough to sympathize, is unhappily greater now than it has been for years before. Our poor Thornie came back to us about seventeen days ago. We can never rejoice enough that we were already at home, seeing that we held it impossible for him to set out on his voyage until at least six weeks [64] later than he did. Since he arrived our lives have been chiefly absorbed by cares for him; and though we now have a nurse to attend on him constantly, we spend several hours of the day by his side. There is joy in the midst of our trouble, from the tenderness towards the sufferer being altogether unchecked by anything unlovable in him. Thornie's disposition seems to have become sweeter than ever with the added six years; and there is nothing that we discern in his character or habits to cause us grief. Enough of our troubles. I gather from your welcome letter, received this morning, that there is a good deal of enjoyment for you in your temporary home, in spite of bad weather and faceache, which I hope will have passed away when you read this.

Mr. Beesley[8] wrote to me to tell me of his engagement, and on Sunday we had the pleasure of shaking him by the hand and seeing him look very happy. His is one of a group of prospective marriages which we have had announced to us since we came home. Besides Mr. Harrison's, there is Dr. Allbut's, our charming friend at Leeds. I told Mr. Beesley that I thought myself magnanimous in really rejoicing at the engagements of men friends, because, of course, they will be comparatively indifferent to their old intimates.

Dear Madame Bodichon is a precious help to us. She comes twice a week to sit with Thornie, and she is wonderfully clever in talking to young people. One finds out those who have real practical sympathy in times of trouble.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 9th June, 1869.

Your letter has fulfilled two wishes of mine. It [65] shows me that you keep me in your kind thoughts, and that you are very happy. I had been told by our friends, the Nortons, of your engagement, but I knew nothing more than that bare fact, and your letter gives me more of a picture. A very pretty picture—for I like to think of your love having grown imperceptibly along with sweet family affections. I do heartily share in your happiness, for however space and time may keep us asunder, you will never to my mind be lost in the distance, but will hold a place of marked and valued interest quite apart from those more public hopes about you which I shall not cease to cherish.

Both Mr. Lewes and I shall be delighted to see you any evening. I imagine that when you are obliged to stay in town the evening will be the easiest time for you to get out to us. Any time after eight you will find us thoroughly glad to shake hands with you. Do come when you can.

Journal, 1869.

July 3.—Finished my reading in Lucretius. Reading Victor Hugo's "L'homme qui rit;" also the Frau von Hillern's novel, "Ein Arzt der Seele." This week G. and I have been to Sevenoaks, but were driven home again by the cold winds and cloudy skies. "Sonnets on Childhood"—five—finished.

July 10.—I wrote to Mrs. Stowe, in answer to a second letter of hers, accompanied by one from her husband.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 11th July, 1869.

I hoped before this to have seen our friend, Mrs. Fields, on her return from Scotland, and to have begged her to send you word of a domestic affliction which has prevented me from writing to you since I received your and your husband's valued letters. Immediately on our return from Italy, Mr. Lewes's second son, a fine young man of five-and-twenty, returned to us from Natal, [66] wasted by suffering from a long-standing spinal injury. This was on the 8th of May, and since then we have both been absorbed in our duties to this poor child, and have felt our own health and nervous energy insufficient for our needful activity of body and mind. He is at present no better, and we look forward to a long trial. Nothing but a trouble so great as this would have prevented me from writing again to you, not only to thank you and Professor Stowe for your letters, but also to tell you that I have received and read "Old Town Folks." I think few of your many readers can have felt more interest than I have felt in that picture of an elder generation; for my interest in it has a double root—one, in my own love for our old-fashioned provincial life, which had its affinities with a contemporary life, even all across the Atlantic, and of which I have gathered glimpses in different phases, from my father and mother, with their relations; the other is, my experimental acquaintance with some shades of Calvinistic orthodoxy. I think your way of presenting the religious convictions which are not your own, except by indirect fellowship, is a triumph of insight and true tolerance. A thorough comprehension of the mixed moral influence shed on society by dogmatic systems is rare even among writers, and one misses it altogether in English drawing-room talk. I thank you sincerely for the gift (in every sense) of this book, which, I can see, has been a labor of love.

Both Mr. Lewes and I are deeply interested in the indications which the Professor gives of his peculiar psychological experience, and we should feel it a great privilege to learn much more of it from his lips. It is a rare thing to have such an opportunity of studying exceptional experience in the testimony of a truthful [67] and in every way distinguished mind. He will, I am sure, accept the brief thanks which I can give in this letter, for all that he has generously written to me. He says, "I have had no connection with any of the modern movements, except as father confessor;" and I can well believe that he must be peculiarly sensitive to the repulsive aspects which those movements present. Your view as to the cause of that "great wave of spiritualism" which is rushing over America—namely, that it is a sort of Rachel-cry of bereavement towards the invisible existence of the loved ones, is deeply affecting. But so far as "spiritualism" (by which I mean, of course, spirit-communication, by rapping, guidance of the pencil, etc.) has come within reach of my judgment on our side of the water, it has appeared to me either as degrading folly, imbecile in the estimate of evidence, or else as impudent imposture. So far as my observation and experience have hitherto gone, it has even seemed to me an impiety to withdraw from the more assured methods of studying the open secret of the universe any large amount of attention to alleged manifestations which are so defiled by low adventurers and their palpable trickeries, so hopelessly involved in all the doubtfulness of individual testimonies as to phenomena witnessed, which testimonies are no more true objectively because they are honest subjectively, than the Ptolemaic system is true because it seemed to Tycho Brahé a better explanation of the heavenly movements than the Copernican. This is a brief statement of my position on the subject, which your letter shows me to have an aspect much more compulsory on serious attention in America than I can perceive it to have in England. I should not be as simply truthful as my deep respect for you demands, [68] if I did not tell you exactly what is my mental attitude in relation to the phenomena in question. But whatever you print on the subject and will send me I shall read with attention, and the idea you give me of the hold which spiritualism has gained on the public mind in the United States is already a fact of historic importance.

Forgive me, dear friend, if I write in the scantiest manner, unworthily responding to letters which have touched me profoundly. You have known so much of life, both in its more external trials and in the peculiar struggles of a nature which is made twofold in its demands by the yearnings of the author as well as of the woman, that I can count on your indulgence and power of understanding my present inability to correspond by letter.

May I add my kind remembrances to your daughter to the high regard which I offer to your husband?

Journal, 1869.

July 14.—Returned from Hatfield, after two days' stay.

July 15.—Began Nisard's "History of French Literature"—Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Christine de Pisan, Philippe de Comines, Villers.

July 16.—Read the articles Phœnicia and Carthage in "Ancient Geography." Looked into Jewitt's "Universal History" again for Carthaginian religion. Looked into Sismondi's "Littérature du Midi" for Roman de la Rose; and ran through the first chapter about the formation of the Romance languages. Read about Thallogens and Acrogens in the "Vegetable World." Read Drayton's "Nymphidia"—a charming poem—a few pages of his "Polyolbion." Re-read Grote, v.-vii., on Sicilian affairs, down to rise of Dionysius. [69]

July 18.—Miss Nannie Smith came, after a long absence from England; Professor Masson and Dr. Bastian, Madame Bodichon, and Dr. Payne. Some conversation about Saint-Simonism, à propos of the meeting on Woman's Suffrage the day before, M. Arles Dufour being uneasy because Mill did not in his speech recognize what women owed to Saint-Simonism.

July 19.—Writing an introduction to "Middlemarch." I have just re-read the 15th Idyll of Theocritus, and have written three more sonnets. My head uneasy. We went in the afternoon to the old water-colors, finding that the exhibition was to close at the end of the week. Burne-Jones's Circe and St. George affected me, by their colors, more than any of the other pictures—they are poems. In the evening read Nisard on Rabelais and Marot.

July 22.—Read Reybaud's book on "Les Réformateurs Modernes." In the afternoon Mrs. P. Taylor came and saw Thornie, who has been more uneasy this week, and unwilling to move or come out on the lawn.

July 23.—Read Theocritus, Id. 16. Meditated characters for "Middlemarch." Mrs. F. Malleson came.

July 24.—Still not quite well and clear-headed, so that little progress is made. I read aloud Fourier and Owen, and thought of writing something about Utopists.

July 25.—Read Plato's "Republic" in various parts. After lunch Miss Nannie Smith, Miss Blythe, Mr. Burton, and Mr. Deutsch. In the evening I read Nisard, and Littré on Comte.

Aug. 1.—Since last Sunday I have had an uncomfortable [70] week from mental and bodily disturbance. I have finished eleven sonnets on "Brother and Sister," read Littré, Nisard, part of 22d Idyll of Theocritus, Sainte-Beuve, aloud to G. two evenings. Monday evening looked through Dickson's "Fallacies of the Faculty." On Tuesday afternoon we went to the British Museum to see a new bronze, and I was enchanted with some fragments of glass in the Slade collection, with dyes of sunset in them. Yesterday, sitting in Thornie's room, I read through all Shakespeare's "Sonnets." Poor Thornie has had a miserably unsatisfactory week, making no progress. After lunch came Miss N. Smith and Miss Blythe, Mr. Burton, Mr. and Mrs. Burne-Jones, and Mr. Sanderson.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 1st Aug. 1869.

My last words to you might appear to imply something laughably opposed to my real meaning. "Think of me only as an example" meant—an example to be avoided. It was an allusion in my mind to the servant-girl who, being arrested for theft, said to her fellow-servant, "Take example by me, Sally." With the usual caprice of language, we say. "Make an example of her," in that sense of holding up for a warning, which the poor girl and I intended.

Journal, 1869.

Aug. 2.—Began "Middlemarch" (the Vincy and Featherstone parts).

Aug. 5.—Thornie during the last two or three days gives much more hopeful signs: has been much more lively, with more regular appetite and quieter nights. This morning I finished the first chapter of "Middlemarch." I am reading Renouard's "History of Medicine."

Aug. 31.—We went to Weybridge, walked on St. George's Hill, and lunched with Mrs. Cross and her family.[71]

This visit to Weybridge is a very memorable one to me, because there my own first intimacy with George Eliot began, and the bonds with my family were knitted very much closer. Mr. and Mrs. Bullock were staying with us; and my sister, who had some gift for music, had set one or two of the songs from the "Spanish Gypsy." She sang one of them—"On through the woods, the pillared pines"—and it affected George Eliot deeply. She moved quickly to the piano, and kissed Mrs. Bullock very warmly, in her tears. Mr. and Mrs. Lewes were in deep trouble owing to the illness of Thornton Lewes; we were also in much anxiety as to the approaching confinement of my sister with her first child; and I was on the eve of departure for America. Sympathetic feelings were strong enough to overleap the barrier (often hard to pass) which separates acquaintanceship from friendship. A day did the work of years. Our visitors had come to the house as acquaintances, they left it as lifelong friends. And the sequel of that day greatly intensified the intimacy. For within a month my sister had died in childbirth, and her death called forth one of the most beautiful of George Eliot's letters. A month later Thornton Lewes died.

Journal, 1869.

Sept. 1.—I meditated characters and conditions for "Middlemarch," which stands still in the beginning of chapter iii.

Sept. 2.—We spent the morning in Hatfield Park, arriving at home again at half-past three.

Sept. 10.—I have achieved little during the last week, except reading on medical subjects—Encyclopædia about the "Medical Colleges," "Cullen's Life," [72] Russell's "Heroes of Medicine," etc. I have also read Aristophanes' "Ecclesiazusœ," and "Macbeth."

Sept. 11.—I do not feel very confident that I can make anything satisfactory of "Middlemarch." I have need to remember that other things which have been accomplished by me were begun under the same cloud. G. has been reading "Romola" again, and expresses profound admiration. This is encouraging.

Sept. 15.—George and I went to Sevenoaks for a couple of nights, and had some delicious walks.

Sept. 21.—Finished studying again Bekker's "Charikles." I am reading Mandeville's Travels. As to my work, im Stiche gerathen. Mrs. Congreve and Miss Bury came; and I asked Mrs. Congreve to get me some information about provincial hospitals, which is necessary to my imagining the conditions of my hero.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 21st Sept. 1869.

As to the Byron subject, nothing can outweigh to my mind the heavy social injury of familiarizing young minds with the desecration of family ties. The discussion of the subject in newspapers, periodicals, and pamphlets is simply odious to me, and I think it a pestilence likely to leave very ugly marks. One trembles to think how easily that moral wealth may be lost which it has been the work of ages to produce in the refinement and differencing of the affectionate relations. As to the high-flown stuff which is being reproduced about Byron and his poetry, I am utterly out of sympathy with it. He seems to me the most vulgar-minded genius that ever produced a great effect in literature.

Journal, 1869.

Sept. 22.—We went down to Watford for a change.

Sept. 24.—Returned home this morning because of the unpromising weather. It is worth while to record my great depression of spirits, that I may remember [73] one more resurrection from the pit of melancholy. And yet what love is given to me! What abundance of good I possess! All my circumstances are blessed; and the defect is only in my own organism. Courage and effort!

Oct. 5.—Ever since the 28th I have been good for little, ailing in body and disabled in mind. On Sunday an interesting Russian pair came to see us—M. and Mme. Kovilevsky: she, a pretty creature, with charming modest voice and speech, who is studying mathematics (by allowance, through the aid of Kirchhoff) at Heidelberg; he, amiable and intelligent, studying the concrete sciences apparently—especially geology; and about to go to Vienna for six months for this purpose, leaving his wife at Heidelberg!

I have begun a long-meditated poem, "The Legend of Jubal," but have not written more than twenty or thirty verses.

Oct. 13.—Yesterday Mr. W. G. Clark of Cambridge came to see us, and told of his intention to give up his oratorship and renounce his connection with the Church.

I have read rapidly through Max Müller's "History of Sanskrit Literature," and am now reading Lecky's "History of Morals." I have also finished Herbert Spencer's last number of his "Psychology." My head has been sadly feeble, and my whole body ailing of late. I have written about one hundred verses of my poem. Poor Thornie seems to us in a state of growing weakness.

Oct. 19.—This evening at half-past six our dear Thornie died. He went quite peacefully. For three days he was not more than fitfully and imperfectly conscious of the things around him. He went to Natal [74] on the 17th October, 1863, and came back to us ill on the 8th May, 1869. Through the six months of his illness his frank, impulsive mind disclosed no trace of evil feeling. He was a sweet-natured boy—still a boy, though he had lived for twenty-five years and a half. On the 9th of August he had an attack of paraplegia, and although he partially recovered from it, it made a marked change in him. After that he lost a great deal of his vivacity, but he suffered less pain. This death seems to me the beginning of our own.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th Dec. 1869.

The day after our dear boy's funeral we went into the quietest and most beautiful part of Surrey, four miles and a half from any railway station. I was very much shaken in mind and body, and nothing but the deep calm of fields and woods would have had a beneficent effect on me. We both of us felt, more than ever before, the blessedness of being in the country, and we are come back much restored. It will interest you, I think, to know that a friend of ours, Mr. W. G. Clark, the public orator at Cambridge, laid down his oratorship as a preparatory step to writing a letter to his bishop renouncing, or, rather, claiming to be free from, his clerical status, because he no longer believes what it presupposes him to believe. Two other men whom we know are about to renounce Cambridge fellowships on the same ground.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 31st Dec. 1869.

We shall be delighted to have you on Monday. I hope you will get your business done early enough to be by a good fire in our drawing-room before lunch. Mr. Doyle is coming to dine with us, but you will not mind that. He is a dear man, a good Catholic, full of varied sympathies and picturesque knowledge.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 15th Jan. 1870.

I am moved to write to you rather by the inclination to remind you of me than by the sense of having anything [75] to say. On reading "The Positivist Problem"[9] a second time, I gained a stronger impression of its general value, and I also felt less jarred by the more personal part at the close. Mr. Lewes would tell you that I have an unreasonable aversion to personal statements, and when I come to like them it is usually by a hard process of con-version. But my second reading gave me a new and very strong sense that the last two or three pages have the air of an appendix, added at some distance of time from the original writing of the article. Some more thoroughly explanatory account of your non-adhesion seems requisite as a nexus—since the statement of your non-adhesion had to be mentioned after an argument for the system against the outer Gentile world. However, it is more important for me to say that I felt the thorough justice of your words, when, in conversation with me, you said, "I don't see why there should be any mystification; having come to a resolution after much inward debate, it is better to state the resolution." Something like that you said, and I give a hearty "Amen," praying that I may not be too apt myself to prefer the haze to the clearness. But the fact is, I shrink from decided "deliverances" on momentous subjects from the dread of coming to swear by my own "deliverances," and sinking into an insistent echo of myself. That is a horrible destiny—and one cannot help seeing that many of the most powerful men fall into it.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Mch. 1870.

Cara has told me about your republication of the "Inquiry," and I have a longing to write—not intrusively, I hope—just to say "thank you" for the good it does me to know of your being engaged in that act [76] of piety to your brother's memory. I delight in the act itself, and in the satisfaction which I know you have in performing it. When I remember my own obligation to the book, I must believe that among the many new readers a cheap edition will reach there must be minds to whom it will bring welcome light in studying the New Testament—sober, serious help towards a conception of the past, instead of stage-lights and make-ups. And this value is, I think, independent of the opinions that might be held as to the different degrees of success in the construction of probabilities or in particular interpretations. Throughout there is the presence of grave sincerity. I would gladly have a word or two directly from yourself when you can scribble a note without feeling me a bore for wanting it. People who write many letters without being forced to do so are fathomless wonders to me, but you have a special faculty for writing such letters as one cares to read, so it is a pity that the accomplishment should lie quite unused. I wonder if you have read Emerson's new essays. I like them very much.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 3d April, 1870.

We shall leave Berlin on Tuesday, so that I must ask you to send me the much-desired news of you to Vienna, addressed to the Hon. Robert Lytton, British Embassy. We do not yet know the name of the hotel where rooms have been taken for us. Our journey has not been unfortunate hitherto. The weather has been cold and cheerless, but we expected this, and on the 1st of April the sun began to shine. As for my Wenigkeit, it has never known a day of real bodily comfort since we got to Berlin: headache, sore throat, and Schnupfen have been alternately my companions, and have made my enjoyment very languid. But think of this as all past when you get my letter; for this [77] morning I have a clearer head, the sun is shining, and the better time seems to be come for me. Mr. Lewes has had a good deal of satisfaction in his visits to laboratories and to the Charité, where he is just now gone for the third time to see more varieties of mad people, and hear more about Psychiatrie from Dr. Westphal, a quiet, unpretending little man, who seems to have been delighted with George's sympathetic interest in this (to me) hideous branch of practice. I speak with all reverence: the world can't do without hideous studies.

People have been very kind to us, and have overwhelmed us with attentions, but we have felt a little weary in the midst of our gratitude, and since my cold has become worse we have been obliged to cut off further invitations.

We have seen many and various men and women, but except Mommsen, Bunsen, and Du Bois Reymond, hardly any whose names would be known to you. If I had been in good health I should probably have continued to be more amused than tired of sitting on a sofa and having one person after another brought up to bow to me, and pay me the same compliment. Even as it was, I felt my heart go out to some good women who seemed really to have an affectionate feeling towards me for the sake of my books. But the sick animal longs for quiet and darkness.

The other night, at Dr. Westphal's, I saw a young English lady marvellously like Emily in face, figure, and voice. I made advances to her on the strength of that external resemblance, and found it carried out in the quickness of her remarks. But new gentlemen to be introduced soon divided us. Another elegant, pretty woman there was old Boeckh's daughter. One enters on all subjects by turns in these evening parties, [78] which are something like reading the Conversations-Lexicon in a nightmare. Among lighter entertainments we have been four times to the opera, being tempted at the very beginning of our stay by Gluck, Mozart, and an opportunity of hearing Tannhäuser for the second time. Also we have enjoyed some fine orchestral concerts, which are to be had for sixpence! Berlin has been growing very fast since our former stay here, and luxury in all forms has increased so much that one only here and there gets a glimpse of the old-fashioned German housekeeping. But though later hours are becoming fashionable, the members of the Reichstag who have other business than politics complain of having to begin their sitting at eleven, ending, instead of beginning, at four, when the solid day is almost gone. We went to the Reichstag one morning, and were so fortunate as to hear Bismarck speak. But the question was one of currency, and his speech was merely a brief winding-up.

Now I shall think that I have earned a letter telling me all about you. May there be nothing but good to tell of! Pray give my best love to Emily, and my earnest wishes to Dr. Congreve, that he may have satisfaction in new work.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 18th May, 1870.

I gladly and gratefully keep the portrait.[10] For my own part, I should have said, without hesitation, "Prefix it to the 'Inquiry.'" One must not be unreasonable about portraits. How can a thing which is always the same be an adequate representation of a living being who is always varying—especially of a living being who is sensitive, bright, many-sided, as your brother was? But I think the impression which this portrait [79] gives excites interest. I am often sorry for people who lose half their possible good in the world by being more alive to deficiencies than to positive merits.

I like to know that you have felt in common with me while you read "Jubal." Curiously enough, Mr. Lewes, when I first read it to him, made just the remark you make about the scene of Jubal coming with the lyre. We laughed at Mr. Bray's sharp criticism. Tell him it is not the fashion for authors ever to be in the wrong. They have always justifying reasons. But also it is the fashion for critics to know everything, so that the authors don't think it needful to tell their reasons.

Journal, 1870.

May 20.—I am fond of my little old book in which I have recorded so many changes, and shall take to writing in it again. It will perhaps last me all through the life that is left to me. Since I wrote in it last, the day after Thornie's death, the chief epochs have been our stay at Limpsfield, in Surrey, till near the beginning of December; my writing of "Jubal," which I finished on the 13th of January; the publication of the poem in the May number of Macmillan's Magazine; and our journey to Berlin and Vienna, from which we returned on the 6th of this month, after an absence of eight weeks. This is a fortnight ago, and little has been done by me in the interim. My health is in an uncomfortable state, and I seem to be all the weaker for the continual depression produced by cold and sore throat, which stretched itself all through our long journey. These small bodily grievances make life less desirable to me, though every one of my best blessings—my one perfect love, and the sympathy shown towards me for the sake of my works, and the personal [80] regard of a few friends—have become much intensified in these latter days. I am not hopeful about future work. I am languid, and my novel languishes too. But to-morrow may be better than to-day.

May 25.—We started for Oxford, where we were to stay with the Rector of Lincoln and his wife. After luncheon G. and I walked alone through the town, which, on this first view, was rather disappointing to me. Presently we turned through Christ Church into the meadows, and walked along by the river. This was beautiful to my heart's content. The buttercups and hawthorns were in their glory, the chestnuts still in sufficiently untarnished bloom, and the grand elms made a border towards the town. After tea we went with Mrs. Pattison and the rector to the croquet-ground near the Museum. On our way we saw Sir Benjamin Brodie, and on the ground Professor Rawlinson, the "narrow-headed man;" Mrs. Thursfield and her son, who is a Fellow (I think, of Corpus); Miss Arnold, daughter of Mr. Thomas Arnold, and Professor Phillips, the geologist. At supper we had Mr. Bywater and Miss Arnold, and in chat with them the evening was passed.

May 26.—G. and I went to the Museum, and had an interesting morning with Dr. Rolleston, who dissected a brain for me. After lunch we went again to the Museum, and spent the afternoon with Sir Benjamin Brodie, seeing various objects in his laboratories; among others, the method by which weighing has been superseded in delicate matters by measuring in a graduated glass tube. Afterwards Mrs. Pattison took me a drive in her little pony carriage round by their country refuge, the Firs, Haddington, and by Littlemore, where I saw J. H. Newman's little conventual dwelling. [81] Returning, we had a fine view of the Oxford towers. To supper came Sir Benjamin and Lady Brodie.

May 27.—In the morning we walked to see the two Martyrs' Memorial, and then to Sir Benjamin Brodie's pretty place near the river and bridge. Close by their grounds is the original ford whence the place took its name. The Miss Gaskells were staying with them, and, after chatting some time, we two walked with Sir Benjamin to New College, where we saw the gardens surrounded by the old city wall; the chapel where William of Wykeham's crosier is kept; and the cloisters, which are fine, but gloomy, and less beautiful than those of Magdalen, which we saw in our walk on Thursday before going to the Museum. After lunch we went to the Bodleian, and then to the Sheldonian Theatre, where there was a meeting à propos of Palestine Exploration. Captain Warren, conductor of the Exploration at Jerusalem, read a paper, and then Mr. Deutsch gave an account of the interpretation, as hitherto arrived at, of the Moabite Stone. I saw squeezes of this stone for the first time, with photographs taken from the squeezes. After tea Mrs. Thursfield kindly took us to see a boat-race. We saw it from the Oriel barge, under the escort of Mr. Crichton, Fellow of Merton, who, on our return, took us through the lovely gardens of his college. At supper were Mr. Jowett, Professor Henry Smith, and Miss Smith, his sister, Mr. Fowler, author of "Deductive Logic," etc.

May 28.—After a walk to St. John's College we started by the train for London, and arrived at home about two o'clock.

May 29.—Mr. Spencer, Mrs. Burne-Jones, and Mr. Crompton came. I read aloud No. 3 of "Edwin Drood."[82]

May 30.—We went to see the autotypes of Michael Angelo's frescoes, at 36 Rathbone Place. I began Grove on the "Correlation of the Physical Forces"—needing to read it again—with new interest, after the lapse of years.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 13th June, 1870.

Dr. Reynolds advises Mr. Lewes to leave London again, and go to the bracing air of the Yorkshire coast. I said that we should be here till the beginning of August, but the internal order proposes and the external order disposes—if we are to be so priggish as to alter all our old proverbs into agreement with new formulas! Dickens's death came as a great shock to us. He lunched with us just before we went abroad, and was telling us a story of President Lincoln having told the Council, on the day he was shot, that something remarkable would happen, because he had just dreamt, for the third time, a dream which twice before had preceded events momentous to the nation. The dream was, that he was in a boat on a great river, all alone, and he ended with the words, "I drift—I drift—I drift." Dickens told this very finely. I thought him looking dreadfully shattered then. It is probable that he never recovered from the effect of the terrible railway accident.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 23d June, 1870, from Cromer.

We have been driven away from home again by the state of Mr. Lewes's health. Dr. Reynolds recommended the Yorkshire coast; but we wanted to know Cromer, and so we came here first, for the sake of variety. To me the most desirable thing just now seems to be to have one home, and stay there till death comes to take me away. I get more and more disinclined to the perpetual makeshifts of a migratory life, and care more and more for the order and habitual objects of home. However, there are many in the world whose [83] whole existence is a makeshift, and perhaps the formula which would fit the largest number of lives is "a doing without, more or less patiently." The air just now is not very invigorating anywhere, I imagine, and one begins to be very anxious about the nation generally, on account of the threatening drought.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Robert Lytton (now Lady Lytton), 8th July, 1870, from Harrogate.

I did not like to write to you[11] until Mr. Lytton sent word that I might do so, because I had not the intimate knowledge that would have enabled me to measure your trouble; and one dreads, of all things, to speak or write a wrong or unseasonable word when words are the only signs of interest and sympathy that one has to give. I know now, from what your dear husband has told us, that your loss is very keenly felt by you, that it has first made you acquainted with acute grief, and this makes me think of you very much. For learning to love any one is like an increase of property—it increases care, and brings many new fears lest precious things should come to harm. I find myself often thinking of you with that sort of proprietor's anxiety, wanting you to have gentle weather all through your life, so that your face may never look worn and storm-beaten, and wanting your husband to be and do the very best, lest anything short of that should be disappointment to you. At present the thought of you is all the more with me because your trouble has been brought by death; and for nearly a year death seems to me my most intimate daily companion. I mingle the thought of it with every other, not sadly, but as one mingles the thought of some one who is nearest in love and duty with all one's motives. I try to delight in the sunshine that will be when I shall never [84] see it any more. And I think it is possible for this sort of impersonal life to attain great intensity—possible for us to gain much more independence than is usually believed of the small bundle of facts that make our own personality. I don't know why I should say this to you, except that my pen is chatting as my tongue would if you were here. We women are always in danger of living too exclusively in the affections, and though our affections are, perhaps, the best gifts we have, we ought also to have our share of the more independent life—some joy in things for their own sake. It is piteous to see the helplessness of some sweet women when their affections are disappointed; because all their teaching has been that they can only delight in study of any kind for the sake of a personal love. They have never contemplated an independent delight in ideas as an experience which they could confess without being laughed at. Yet surely women need this sort of defence against passionate affliction even more than men. Just under the pressure of grief, I do not believe there is any consolation. The word seems to me to be drapery for falsities. Sorrow must be sorrow, ill must be ill, till duty and love towards all who remain recover their rightful predominance. Your life is so full of those claims that you will not have time for brooding over the unchangeable. Do not spend any of your valuable time now in writing to me, but be satisfied with sending me news of you through Mr. Lytton when he has occasion to write to Mr. Lewes.

I have lately finished reading aloud Mendelssohn's "Letters," which we had often resolved and failed to read before. They have been quite cheering to us from the sense they give of communion with an eminently pure, refined nature, with the most rigorous conscience [85] in art. In the evening we have always a concert to listen to—a concert of modest pretensions, but well conducted enough to be agreeable.

I hope this letter of chit-chat will not reach you at a wrong moment. In any case, forgive all mistakes on the part of one who is always yours sincerely and affectionately.

Journal, 1870.

Aug. 4.—Two months have been spent since the last record! Their result is not rich, for we have been sent wandering again by G.'s want of health. On the 15th June we went to Cromer, on the 30th to Harrogate, and on the 18th July to Whitby, where Mrs. Burne-Jones also arrived on the same day. On Monday, August 1, we came home again for a week only, having arranged to go to Limpsfield next Monday. To-day, under much depression, I begin a little dramatic poem,[12] the subject of which engaged my interest at Harrogate.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 12th Aug. 1870.

We, too, you see, have come back to a well-tried refuge—the same place that soothed us in our troubles last October—and we especially delight in this deep country after the fuss which belongs even to quiet watering-places, such as Cromer, Harrogate, and Whitby, which are, after all, "alleys where the gentle folks live." We are excited, even among the still woods and fields, by the vicissitudes of the war, and chiefly concerned because we cannot succeed in getting the day's Times. We have entered into the period which will be marked in future historical charts as "The period of German ascendency." But how saddening to think of the iniquities that the great harvest-moon is looking down on! I am less grieved for the bloodshed than for the hateful trust in lies which is continually [86] disclosed. Meanwhile Jowett's "Translation of Plato" is being prepared for publication, and he has kindly sent us the sheets of one volume. So I pass from discussions of French lying and the Nemesis that awaits it to discussions about rhetorical lying at Athens in the fourth century before Christ. The translations and introductions to the "Dialogues" seem to be charmingly done.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 25th Aug. 1870.

We shall return to town on Monday, various small reasons concurring to make us resolve on quitting this earthly paradise. I am very sorry for the sufferings of the French nation; but I think these sufferings are better for the moral welfare of the people than victory would have been. The war has been drawn down on them by an iniquitous government; but in a great proportion of the French people there has been nourished a wicked glorification of selfish pride, which, like all other conceit, is a sort of stupidity, excluding any true conception of what lies outside their own vain wishes. The Germans, it seems, were expected to stand like toy-soldiers for the French to knock them down. It is quite true that the war is in some respects the conflict of two differing forms of civilization. But whatever charm we may see in the southern Latin races, this ought not to blind us to the great contributions which the German energies have made in all sorts of ways to the common treasure of mankind. And who that has any spirit of justice can help sympathizing with them in their grand repulse of the French project to invade and divide them? If I were a Frenchwoman, much as I might wail over French sufferings, I cannot help believing that I should detest the French talk about the "Prussians." They wanted to throttle the electric eel for their own purposes. [87]

But I imagine that you and the doctor would not find us in much disagreement with you in these matters. One thing that is pleasant to think of is the effort made everywhere to help the wounded.

Journal, 1870.

Oct. 27.—On Monday the 8th August we went to our favorite Surrey retreat—Limpsfield—and enjoyed three weeks there reading and walking together. The weather was perfect, and the place seemed more lovely to us than before. Aloud I read the concluding part of Walter Scott's Life, which we had begun at Harrogate; two volumes of Froude's "History of England," and Comte's "Correspondence with Valat." We returned on Monday the 29th.

During our stay at Limpsfield I wrote the greater part of "Armgart," and finished it at intervals during September. Since then I have been continually suffering from headache and depression, with almost total despair of future work. I look into this little book now to assure myself that this is not unprecedented.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 18th Nov. 1870.

Yesterday, for the first time, we went to hear A. (a popular preacher). I remembered what you had said about his vulgar, false emphasis; but there remained the fact of his celebrity. I was glad of the opportunity. But my impressions fell below the lowest judgment I ever heard passed upon him. He has the gift of a fine voice, very flexible and various; he is admirably fluent and clear in his language, and every now and then his enunciation is effective. But I never heard any pulpit reading and speaking which in its level tone was more utterly common and empty of guiding intelligence or emotion; it was as if the words had been learned by heart and uttered without comprehension by a man who had no instinct of rhythm or music in his soul. And the doctrine! It was a libel on Calvinism that [88] it should be presented in such a form. I never heard any attempt to exhibit the soul's experience that was more destitute of insight. The sermon was against fear, in the elect Christian, as being a distrust of God; but never once did he touch the true ground of fear—the doubt whether the signs of God's choice are present in the soul. We had plenty of anecdotes, but they were all poor and pointless—Tract Society anecdotes of the feeblest kind. It was the most superficial grocer's-back-parlor view of Calvinistic Christianity; and I was shocked to find how low the mental pitch of our society must be, judged by the standard of this man's celebrity.

Mr. Lewes was struck with some of his tones as good actor's tones, and was not so wroth as I was. But just now, with all Europe stirred by events that make every conscience tremble after some great principle as a consolation and guide, it was too exasperating to sit and listen to doctrine that seemed to look no further than the retail Christian's tea and muffins. He said "Let us approach the throne of God" very much as he might have invited you to take a chair; and then followed this fine touch—"We feel no love to God because he hears the prayers of others; it is because he hears my prayer that I love him."

You see I am relieving myself by pouring out my disgust to you. Oh, how short life—how near death—seems to me! But this is not an uncheerful thought. The only great dread is the protraction of life into imbecility or the visitation of lingering pain. That seems to me the insurmountable calamity, though there is an ignorant affectation in many people of underrating what they call bodily suffering. I systematically abstain from correspondence, yet the number of acquaintances [89] and consequent little appeals so constantly increases that I often find myself inwardly rebelling against the amount of note-writing that I cannot avoid. Have the great events of these months interfered with your freedom of spirit in writing? One has to dwell continually on the permanent, growing influence of ideas in spite of temporary reactions, however violent, in order to get courage and perseverance for any work which lies aloof from the immediate wants of society. You remember Goethe's contempt for the Revolution of '30 compared with the researches on the Vertebrate Structure of the Skull? "My good friend, I was not thinking of those people." But the changes we are seeing cannot be doffed aside in that way.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, Nov. 1870.

Lying awake early in the morning, according to a bad practice of mine, I was visited with much compunction and self-disgust that I had ever said a word to you about the faults of a friend whose good qualities are made the more sacred by the endurance his lot has in many ways demanded. I think you may fairly set down a full half of any alleged grievances to my own susceptibility, and other faults of mine which necessarily call forth less agreeable manifestations from others than as many virtues would do, if I had them. I trust to your good sense to have judged well in spite of my errors in the presentation of any matter. But I wish to protest against myself, that I may, as much as possible, cut off the temptation to what I should like utterly to purify myself from for the few remaining years of my life—the disposition to dwell for a moment on the faults of a friend.

Tell the flower and fern giver, whoever it may be, that some strength comes to me this morning from the pretty proof of sympathy. [90]

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 2d Dec. 1870.

I have it on my conscience that I may not have given you a clear impression of my wishes about the poor pensioner who was in question between us to-day, so I write at once to secure us both against a possible misunderstanding. I would rather not apply any more money in that direction, because I know of other channels[13] —especially a plan which is being energetically carried out for helping a considerable group of people without almsgiving, and solely by inducing them to work—into which I shall be glad to pour a little more aid. The repugnance to have relief from the parish was a feeling which it was good to encourage in the old days of contra-encouragement to sturdy pauperism; but I question whether one ought now to indulge it, and not rather point out the reasons why, in a case of real helplessness, there is no indignity in receiving from a public fund.

After you had left me, it rang in my ears that I had spoken of my greater cheerfulness as due to a reduced anxiety about myself and my doings, and had not seemed to recognize that the deficit or evil in other lives could be a cause of depression. I was not really so ludicrously selfish while dressing myself up in the costume of unselfishness. But my strong egoism has caused me so much melancholy, which is traceable simply to a fastidious yet hungry ambition, that I am relieved by the comparative quietude of personal craving which age is bringing. That is the utmost I have to boast of, and, really, to be cheerful in these times could only be a virtue in the sense in which it was felt to be so by the old Romans when they thanked their general for not despairing of the republic.


I have been reading aloud to Mr. Lewes this evening Mr. Harrison's article on "Bismarckism," which made me cry—it is in some passages movingly eloquent.

Journal, 1870.

Dec. 2.—I am experimenting in a story ("Miss Brooke") which I began without any very serious intention of carrying it out lengthily. It is a subject which has been recorded among my possible themes ever since I began to write fiction, but will probably take new shapes in the development. I am to-day at p. 44. I am reading Wolf's "Prolegomena to Homer." In the evening, aloud, "Wilhelm Meister" again!

Dec. 12.—George's mother died this morning quite peacefully as she sat in her chair.

Dec. 17.—Reading "Quintus Fixlein" aloud to G. in the evening. Grote on Sicilian history.

Dec. 31.—On Wednesday the 21st we went to Ryde to see Madame Bodichon at Swanmore Parsonage, a house which she had taken for two months. We had a pleasant and healthy visit, walking much in the frosty air. On Christmas Day I went with her to the Ritualist Church which is attached to the parsonage, and heard some excellent intoning by the delicate-faced, tenor-voiced clergyman. On Wednesday last, the 28th, Barbara came up to town with us. We found the cold here more severe than at Ryde; and the papers tell us of still harder weather about Paris, where our fellow-men are suffering and inflicting horrors.

Here is the last day of 1870. I have written only one hundred pages—good printed pages—of a story which I began about the opening of November, and at present mean to call "Miss Brooke." Poetry halts just now.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 2d Jan. 1871.

We spent our Christmas in the Isle of Wight, and on Christmas Day I went to a Ritualist church and heard some fine intoning of the service by a clear, [92] strong, tenor voice, sweet singing from boys' throats, and all sorts of Catholic ceremonial in a miniature way.

It is good to see what our neighbors are doing. To live in seclusion with one's own thoughts is apt to give one very false notions as to the possibilities of the present time in the matter of conversion either to superstition or anti-superstition.

In this cruel time, I no sooner hear of an affliction than I see it multiplied in some one of the endless forms of suffering created by this hellish war. In the beginning I could feel entirely with the Germans, and could say of that calamity called "victory," I am glad. But now I can be glad of nothing. No people can carry on a long, fierce war without being brutalized by it, more or less, and it pains me that the educated voices have not a higher moral tone about national and international duties and prospects. But, like every one else, I feel that the war is too much with me, and am rather anxious to avoid unwise speech about it than to utter what may seem to me to be wisdom. The pain is that one can do so little.

I have not read "Sir Harry Hotspur," but as to your general question, I reply that there certainly are some women who love in that way, but "their sex as well as I may chide them for it." Men are very fond of glorifying that sort of dog-like attachment. It is one thing to love because you falsely imagine goodness—that belongs to the finest natures—and another to go on loving when you have found out your mistake. But married constancy is a different affair. I have seen a grandly heroic woman who, out of her view as to the responsibilities of the married relation, condoned everything, took her drunken husband to her home again, and at last nursed and watched him into penitence and decency. But there may be two opinions [93] even about this sort of endurance—i.e., about its ultimate tendency, not about the beauty of nature which prompts it. This is quite distinct from mere animal constancy. It is duty and human pity.

Letter to Colonel Hamley (now General Sir Edward Hamley), 24th Jan. 1871.

I write to say God bless you for your letter to the Times, of this morning. It contains the best expression of right principle—I was almost ready to say, the only good, sensible words—that I have yet seen on the actual state of things between the Germans and the French.

You will not pause, I trust, but go on doing what can be done only by one who is at once a soldier, a writer, and a clear-headed man of principle.

Journal, 1871.

March 19 (Sunday).—It is grievous to me how little, from one cause or other, chiefly languor and occasionally positive ailments, I manage to get done. I have written about two hundred and thirty-six pages (print) of my novel, which I want to get off my hands by next November. My present fear is that I have too much matter—too many momenti.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 3d April, 1871.

I happened to-day to be talking to a very sweet-faced woman (the sister of Dr. Bridges, whom I think you know something of), and she mentioned, à propos of educating children in the love of animals, that she had felt the want of some good little book as a help in this matter. I told her of yours, and when I said that it was written by Mrs. Bray, the author of "Physiology for Schools," she said, "Oh, I know that book well." I have made her a present of my copy of "Duty to Animals," feeling that this was a good quarter in which to plant that offset. For she had been telling me of her practical interest in the infant and other schools in Suffolk, where she lives. We have had a great pleasure to-day in learning that our friend Miss Bury is engaged to be married to Mr. Geddes, a Scotch gentleman. There is a streak of sadness for her family [94] in the fact that she is to go to India with her husband next November, but all else is bright in her prospect. It is very sweet to see, and think of, the happiness of the young. I am scribbling with an infirm head, at the end of the day, just for the sake of letting you know one proof, in addition doubtless to many others which you have already had, that your pretty little book is likely to supply a want.

Letter to Mrs. Gilchrist, 19th April, 1871.

We are very much obliged to you for your kind, methodical thoughtfulness as to all which is necessary for our accommodation at Brookbank, and also for your hints about the points of beauty to be sought for in our walks. That "sense of standing on a round world," which you speak of, is precisely what I most care for among out-of-door delights. The last time I had it fully was at St. Märgen, near Freiburg, on green hilltops, whence we could see the Rhine and poor France.

The garden has been, and is being, attended to, and I trust we shall not find the commissariat unendurable.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 6th June, 1871.

It seems like a resurrection of a buried-alive friendship once more to have a letter from you. Welcome back from your absorption in the Franchise! Somebody else ought to have your share of work now, and you ought to rest.

Ever since the 1st of May we have been living in this queer cottage, which belongs to Mrs. Gilchrist, wife of the Gilchrist who wrote the life of William Blake the artist. We have a ravishing country round us, and pure air and water; in short, all the conditions of health, if the east wind were away. We have old prints for our dumb companions—charming children of Sir Joshua's, and large-hatted ladies of his and Romney's. I read aloud—almost all the evening—books of German science, and other gravities. So, [95] you see, we are like two secluded owls, wise with unfashionable wisdom, and knowing nothing of pictures and French plays. I confess that I should have gone often to see Got act if I had been in town, he is so really great as an actor. And yet one is ashamed of seeking amusement in connection with anything that belongs to poor, unhappy France. I am saved from the shame by being safely shut out from the amusement.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 17th June, 1871.

How about Madame Mohl and her husband? I have been wondering through all the horrors whether M. Mohl had returned to Paris, and whether their house, containing, too probably, the results of much studious work, lies buried among ruins. But I will not further recall the sorrows in that direction.

I am glad to see the words "very satisfactory" in connection with the visit to Hitchin and Cambridge. Ely Cathedral I saw last year, but too cursorily. It has more of the massive grandeur that one adores in Le Mans and Chartres than most of our English cathedrals, though I am ready to recall the comparison as preposterous.

I don't know how long we shall stay here; perhaps, more or less, till the end of August, for I have given up the idea of going to the Scott Festival at Edinburgh, to which I had accepted an invitation. The fatigue of the long journey, with the crowd at the end, would be too much for me.

Let us know beforehand when you are about coming.

George is gloriously well, and studying, writing, walking, eating, and sleeping with equal vigor. He is enjoying the life here immensely. Our country could hardly be surpassed in its particular kind of beauty—perpetual undulation of heath and copse, and clear views of hurrying water, with here and there a grand [96] pine wood, steep, wood-clothed promontories, and gleaming pools.

If you want delightful reading get Lowell's "My Study Windows," and read the essays called "My Garden Acquaintances" and "Winter."

Get the volumes of a very cheap publication—the "Deutscher Novellenschatz." Some of the tales are remarkably fine. I am reading aloud the last three volumes, which are even better than the others. I have just been so deeply interested in one of the stories—"Diethelm von Buchenberg"—that I want everybody to have the same pleasure who can read German.

Letter to Mrs. Gilchrist, 3d July, 1871.

We are greatly obliged to you for the trouble you have so sympathetically taken on our behalf, and we shall prepare to quit our quiet shelter on Wednesday, the 2d of August. During the first weeks of our stay I did not imagine that I should ever be so fond of the place as I am now. The departure of the bitter winds, some improvement in my health, and the gradual revelation of fresh and fresh beauties in the scenery, especially under a hopeful sky such as we have sometimes had—all these conditions have made me love our little world here and wish not to quit it until we can settle in our London home. I have the regret of thinking that it was my original indifference about it (I hardly ever like things until they are familiar) that hindered us from securing the cottage until the end of September, for the chance of coming to it again after a temporary absence. But all regrets ought to be merged in thankfulness for the agreeable weeks we have had, and probably shall have till the end of July. And among the virtues of Brookbank we shall always reckon this, that our correspondence about it has been [97] with you rather than with any one else, so that, along with the country, we have had a glimpse of your ready, quick-thoughted kindness.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 13th July, 1871.

One word to you in response to Emily's note, which comes to me this morning, and lets me know that by this time she is probably in the last hour of her unmarried life. My thoughts and love and tender anxiety are with her and with all of you. When you receive this she will, I suppose, be far away, and it is of little consequence that I can make no new sign to her of my joy in her joy.

For the next few weeks my anxiety will be concentrated on you and yours at Yarmouth. Pray, when your mind and body are sufficiently free from absorbing occupation, remember my need of news about you, and write to me. The other day I seemed to get a glimpse of you through Mrs. Call, who told me that you looked like a new creature—so much stronger than you were wont; and she told me of Dr. Congreve's address at the school, which raised my keenest sympathy, and made me feel myself a very helpless friend.

Please give my love to the children, and tell Sophy especially that I think her happy in this—that there is a place made for all the effort of her young life to fill it with something like the goodness and brightness which she has known and has just now to part with. I expect her to be your guardian angel, perhaps in a new way—namely, in saving you from some fatigue about details.

Letter to John Blackwood, 15th July, 1871.

I still feel that I owe you my thanks for your kind letter, although Mr. Lewes undertook to deliver them in the first instance. You certainly made a seat at the Commemoration Table[14] look more tempting to me [98] than it had done before; but I think that prudence advises me to abstain from the fatigue and excitement of a long railway journey, with a great gathering at the end of it. If there is a chance that "Middlemarch" will be good for anything, I don't want to break down and die without finishing it. And whatever "the tow on my distaff" may be, my strength to unwind it has not been abundant lately.

À propos of bodily prosperity, I am sincerely rejoiced to know, by your postscript this morning, that Mr. Simpson is recovered. I hope he will not object to my considering him a good friend of mine, though it is so long since I saw him. The blank that is left when thorough workers like him are disabled is felt not only near at hand, but a great way off. I often say—after the fashion of people who are getting older—that the capacity for good work, of the kind that goes on without trumpets, is diminishing in the world.

The continuous absence of sunshine is depressing in every way, and makes one fear for the harvest, and so grave a fear that one is ashamed of mentioning one's private dreariness. You cannot play golf in the rain, and I cannot feel hopeful without the sunlight; but I dare say you work all the more, whereas when my spirits flag my work flags too.

I should have liked to see Principal Tulloch again, and to have made the acquaintance of Captain Lockhart, whose writing is so jaunty and cheery, yet so thoroughly refined in feeling. Perhaps I may still have this pleasure in town, when he comes up at the same time with you. Please give my kind regards to Mr. William Blackwood.

Letter to John Blackwood, 24th July, 1871.

Thanks for the prompt return of the MS., which arrived this morning.[99]

I don't see how I can leave anything out, because I hope there is nothing that will be seen to be irrelevant to my design, which is to show the gradual action of ordinary causes rather than exceptional, and to show this in some directions which have not been from time immemorial the beaten path—the Cremorne walks and shows of fiction. But the best intentions are good for nothing until execution has justified them. And you know I am always compassed about with fears. I am in danger in all my designs of parodying dear Goldsmith's satire on Burke, and think of refining when novel-readers only think of skipping.

We are obliged to turn out of this queer cottage next week; but we have been fortunate enough to get the more comfortable house on the other side of the road, so that we can move without any trouble. Thus our address will continue to be the same until the end of August.

Tennyson, who is one of the "hill-folk" about here, has found us out.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Robert Lytton[15] (now Lady Lytton), 25th July, 1871.

This morning your husband's letter came to us, but if I did not know that it would be nearly a week before any words of mine could reach you, I should abstain from writing just yet, feeling that in the first days of sorrowing it is better to keep silence. For a long while after a great bereavement our only companionship is with the lost one. Yet I hope it will not be without good to you to have signs of love from your friends, and to be reminded that you have a home in their affections, which is made larger for you by your trouble. For weeks my thought has been continually going out to you, and the absence of news has made [100] me so fearful that I have mourned beforehand. I have been feeling that probably you were undergoing the bitterest grief you had ever known. But under the heart-stroke, is there anything better than to grieve? Strength will come back for the duty and the fellowship which gradually bring new contentments, but at first there is no joy to be desired that would displace sorrow.

What is better than to love and live with the loved? But that must sometimes bring us to live with the dead; and this too turns at last into a very tranquil and sweet tie, safe from change and injury.

You see, I make myself a warrant out of my regard for you, to write as if we had long been near each other. And I cannot help wishing that we were physically nearer—that you were not on the other side of Europe. We shall trust in Mr. Lytton's kindness to let us hear of you by and by. But you must never write except to satisfy your own longing. May all true help surround you, dear Mrs. Lytton, and whenever you can think of me, believe in me as yours with sincere affection.

Letter to Miss Mary Cross, 31st July, 1871.

I read your touching story[16] aloud yesterday to Mr. Lewes, and we both cried over it. Your brother wrote to me that you had doubts about giving your name. My faith is, that signature is right in the absence of weighty special reasons against it.

We think of you all very often, and feel ourselves much the richer for having a whole dear family to reckon among our friends. We are to stay here till the end of the month. When the trees are yellow, I hope you will be coming to see us in St. John's [101] Wood. How little like the woods we have around us! I suppose Weybridge is more agreeable than other places at present, if it has any of its extra warmth in this arctic season.

Our best love, to your dear mother supremely, and then to all.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 2d Aug. 1871.

I always say that those people are the happiest who have a peremptory reason for staying in one place rather than another. Else I should be sorry for you that you are kept in London—by Parliamentary business, of course.

There is sunshine over our fields now, but the thermometer is only 64° in the house, and in the warmest part of the day I, having a talent for being cold, sit shivering, sometimes even with a warm-water bottle at my feet. I wonder if you went to the French plays to see the supreme Got? That is a refined pleasure which I enjoyed so much in Paris a few years ago that I was sorry to be out of reach of it this spring.

About the Crystal Palace music I remember feeling just what you mention—the sublime effect of the Handel choruses, and the total futility of the solos.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 3d Aug. 1871.

Thanks for your little picture of things. Eminently acceptable in place of vague conjectures. I am a bitter enemy to make-believe about the human lot, but I think there is a true alleviation of distress in thinking of the intense enjoyment which accompanies a spontaneous, confident, intellectual activity. This may not be a counterpoise to the existing evils, but it is at least a share of mortal good, and good of an exquisite kind.

Are you not happy in the long-wished-for sunshine? I have a pretty lawn before me, with hills in the background. [102] The train rushes by every now and then to make one more glad of the usual silence.

A good man writes to me from Scotland this morning, asking me if he is not right in pronouncing Romŏla, in defiance of the world around him (not a large world, I hope) who will say Romōla. Such is correspondence in these days; so that quantity is magnificent en gros but shabby en détaili.e., in single letters like this.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 14th Aug. 1871.

We shall stay here only till the end of this month—at least, I have no hope that our propriétaires will be induced to protract their absence; and if the lingering smell of paint does not drive us away from the Priory again, we expect to stay there from the first of September, without projects of travel for many, many months.

We enjoy our roomy house and pretty lawn greatly. Imagine me seated near a window, opening under a veranda, with flower-beds and lawn and pretty hills in sight, my feet on a warm-water bottle, and my writing on my knees. In that attitude my mornings are passed. We dine at two; and at four, when the tea comes in, I begin to read aloud. About six or half-past we walk on to the commons and see the great sky over our head. At eight we are usually in the house again, and fill our evening with physics, chemistry, or other wisdom if our heads are at par; if not, we take to folly, in the shape of Alfred de Musset's poems, or something akin to them.

Letter to John Blackwood, 29th Oct. 1871.

Yesterday we returned from Weybridge, where, for a few days, I have been petted by kind friends (delightful Scotch people), and have had delicious drives in the pure autumn air. That must be my farewell to invalidism and holiday making. I am really better—not [103] robust or fat, but perhaps as well as I am likely to be till death mends me.

Your account of Mr. Main[17] sets my mind at ease about him; for in this case I would rather have your judgment than any opportunity of forming my own. The one thing that gave me confidence was his power of putting his finger on the right passages, and giving emphasis to the right idea (in relation to the author's feeling and purpose). Apart from that, enthusiasm would have been of little value.

One feels rather ashamed of authoresses this week after the correspondence in the Times. One hardly knows which letter is in the worst taste. However, if we are to begin with marvelling at the little wisdom with which the world is governed, we can hardly expect that much wisdom will go to the making of novels.

I should think it quite a compliment if the general got through "Miss Brooke." Mr. Lewes amused himself with the immeasurable contempt that Mr. Casaubon would be the object of in the general's mind.

I hardly dare hope that the second part will take quite so well as the first, the effects being more subtile and dispersed; but Mr. Lewes seems to like the third part better than anything that has gone before it. But can anything be more uncertain than the reception of a book by the public? I am glad to see that the "Coming Race" has got into a fourth edition. Let us hope that the Koom Posh may be at least mitigated by the sale of a good book or two.

As for me, I get more and more unable to be anything more than a feeble sceptic about all publishing [104] plans, and am thankful to have so many good heads at work for me. Allah illah allah!

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1871.

We who are getting old together have the tie of common infirmities. But I don't find that the young troubles seem lighter on looking back. I prefer my years now to any that have gone before. I wish you could tell me the same thing about yourself. And, surely, writing your book is, on the whole, a joy to you—it is a large share in the meagre lot of mankind. All hail for the morrow! How many sweet laughs, how much serious pleasure in the great things others have done, you and I have had together in a past islet of time that remains very sunny in my remembrance.

Journal, 1871.

Dec. 1.—This day the first part of "Middlemarch" was published. I ought by this time to have finished the fourth part, but an illness which began soon after our return from Haslemere has robbed me of two months.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th Dec. 1871.

If you have not yet fallen in with Dickens's "Life" be on the lookout for it, because of the interest there is in his boyish experience, and also in his rapid development during his first travels in America. The book is ill organized, and stuffed with criticism and other matter which would be better in limbo; but the information about the childhood, and the letters from America, make it worth reading. We have just got a photograph of Dickens, taken when he was writing, or had just written, "David Copperfield"—satisfactory refutation of that keepsakey, impossible face which Maclise gave him, and which has been engraved for the "Life" in all its odious beautification. This photograph is the young Dickens, corresponding to the older Dickens whom I knew—the same face, without [105] the unusually severe wear and tear of years which his latest looks exhibited.

Journal, 1872.

Dec. 20.—My health has become very troublesome during the last three weeks, and I can get on but tardily. Even now I am only at page 227 of my fourth part. But I have been also retarded by construction, which, once done, serves as good wheels for progress.

Letter to John Blackwood, 1st Jan. 1872.

Your good wishes and pleasant bits of news made the best part of my breakfast this morning. I am glad to think that, in desiring happiness for you during the new year, I am only desiring the continuance of good which you already possess.

I suppose we two, also, are among the happiest of mortals, yet we have had a rather doleful Christmas, the one great lack, that of health, having made itself particularly conspicuous in the surrounding fog. Having no grandchildren to get up a Christmas-tree for, we had nothing to divert our attention from our headaches.

Mr. Main's book broke the clouds a little, and now the heavens have altogether cleared, so that we are hoping to come back from a visit of three days to Weybridge with our strength renewed—if not like the eagle's, at least like a convalescent tomtit's.

The "Sayings" are set off by delightful paper and print, and a binding which opens with inviting ease. I am really grateful to every one concerned in the volume, and am anxious that it should not be in any way a disappointment. The selections seem to me to be made with an exquisite sensibility to the various lights and shades of life; and all Mr. Main's letters show the same quality. It is a great help to me to have such an indication that there exist careful readers for whom no subtilest intention is lost. [106]

We have both read the story of the "Megara" with the deepest interest; indeed, with a quite exceptional enjoyment of its direct, unexaggerated painting.

The prescription of two days' golfing per week will, I hope, keep up your condition to the excellent pitch at which it was on your return from Paris. Good news usually acts as a tonic when one's case is not too desperate; and I shall be glad if you and we can get it in the form of more success for "Middlemarch." Dickens's "Life," you see, finds a large public ready to pay more. But the British mind has long entertained the purchase of expensive biographies. The proofs lately given that one's books don't necessarily go out like lucifer matches, never to be taken up again, make one content with moderate immediate results, which perhaps are as much as can reasonably be expected for any writing which does not address itself either to fashions or corporate interests of an exclusive kind.

Letter to John Blackwood, 18th Jan. 1872.

It is like your kindness to write me your encouraging impressions on reading the third book. I suppose it is my poor health that just now makes me think my writing duller than usual. For certainly the reception of the first book by my old readers is quite beyond my most daring hopes. One of them, who is a great champion of "Adam Bede" and "Romola," told Mr. Lewes yesterday that he thought "Middlemarch" surpassed them. All this is very wonderful to me. I am thoroughly comforted as to the half of the work which is already written; but there remains the terror about the unwritten. Mr. Lewes is much satisfied with the fourth book, which opens with the continuation of the Featherstone drama.

We went yesterday to the Tichborne trial, which was [107] an experience of great interest to me. We had to come away after the third hour of Coleridge's speaking; but it was a great enjoyment to me to hear what I did. Coleridge is a rare orator—not of the declamatory, but of the argumentative order.

Thanks, not formal, but sincerely felt, for the photographs. This likeness will always carry me back to the first time I saw you, in our little Richmond lodging, when I was thinking anxiously of "Adam Bede," as I now am of "Middlemarch."

I felt something like a shudder when Sir Henry Maine asked me last Sunday whether this would not be a very long book; saying, when I told him it would be four good volumes, that that was what he had calculated. However, it will not be longer than Thackeray's books, if so long. And I don't see how the sort of thing I want to do could have been done briefly.

I have to be grateful for the gift of "Brougham's Life," which will be a welcome addition to my means of knowing the time "when his ugliness had not passed its bloom."

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 22d Jan. 1872.

Your letter seems to pierce the rainy fog with a little sunlight. Cold and clearness are the reverse of what we are usually having here. Until the last few days my chief consciousness has been that of struggling against inward as well as outward fog; but I am now better, and have only been dragged back into headachiness by a little too much fatigue from visitors. I give you this account as a preface to my renunciation of a journey to Dover, which would be very delightful, if I had not already lost too much time to be warranted in taking a holiday.

Next Saturday we are going to have a party—six to [108] dine, and a small rush of people after dinner, for the sake of music. I think it is four years at least since we undertook anything of that kind.

A great domestic event for us has been the arrival of a new dog, who has all Ben's virtues, with more intelligence, and a begging attitude of irresistible charm. He is a dark-brown spaniel. You see what infantine innocence we live in!

Glad you are reading my demigod Milton! We also are rather old-fashioned in our light reading just now; for I have rejected Heyse's German stories, brand new, in favor of dear old Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," which I read aloud in my old age with a delicious revival of girlish impressions.

Journal, 1872.

Jan. 29.—It is now the last day but one of January. I have finished the fourth part—i.e., the second volume—of "Middlemarch." The first part, published on December 1, has been excellently well received; and the second part will be published the day after to-morrow. About Christmas a volume of extracts from my works was published, under the title, "Wise, Witty, and Tender Sayings, in Prose and Verse." It was proposed and executed by Alexander Main, a young man of thirty, who began a correspondence with me by asking me how to pronounce Romola, in the summer, when we were at Shottermill. Blackwood proposed that we should share the profits, but we refused.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th Jan. 1872.

I do lead rather a crawling life under these rainy fogs and low behavior of the barometer. But I am a little better, on the whole, though just now overdone with the fatigue of company. We have been to hear Coleridge addressing the jury on the Tichborne trial—a very interesting occasion to me. He is a marvellous [109] speaker among Englishmen; has an exquisitely melodious voice, perfect gesture, and a power of keeping the thread of his syntax to the end of his sentence, which makes him delightful to follow. We are going some other day, if possible, to hear a cross-examination of Ballantyne's. The digest of the evidence which Coleridge gives is one of the best illustrations of the value or valuelessness of testimony that could be given. I wonder if the world, which retails Guppy anecdotes, will be anything the wiser for it.

Letter to John Blackwood, 21st Feb. 1872.

To hear of a friend's illness after he has got well through it is the least painful way of learning the bad news. I hope that your attack has been a payment of insurance.

You probably know what it grieved us deeply to learn the other day—that our excellent friend Mr. William Smith is dangerously ill. They have been so entirely happy and wrapped up in each other that we cannot bear to think of Mrs. Smith's grief.

Thanks for the list of sales since February 12th. Things are encouraging, and the voices that reach us are enthusiastic. But you can understand how people's interest in the book heightens my anxiety that the remainder should be up to the mark. It has caused me some uneasiness that the third part is two sheets less than the first. But Mr. Lewes insisted that the death of old Featherstone was the right point to pause at; and he cites your approbation of the part as a proof that effectiveness is secured in spite of diminished quantity. Still it irks me to ask 5s. for a smaller amount than that already given at the same price. Perhaps I must regard the value as made up solely by effectiveness, and certainly the book will be long enough.[110]

I am still below par in strength, and am too much beset with visitors and kind attentions. I long for the quiet spaces of time and the absence of social solicitations that one enjoys in the country, out of everybody's reach.

I am glad to hear of the pleasure "Middlemarch" gives in your household: that makes quite a little preliminary public for me.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 4th Mch. 1872.

I can understand very easily that the two last years have been full for you of other and more imperative work than the writing of letters not absolutely demanded either by charity or business. The proof that you still think of me affectionately is very welcome now it is come, and all the more cheering because it enables me to think of you as enjoying your retreat in your orange orchard—your western Sorrento—the beloved Rabbi still beside you. I am sure it must be a great blessing to you to bathe in that quietude—as it always is to us when we go out of reach of London influences, and have the large space of country days to study, walk, and talk in. Last year we spent our summer months in Surrey, and did not leave England. Unhappily, the country was not so favorable to my bodily health as to my spiritual, and on our return to town I had an illness which was the climax of the summer's malaise. That illness robbed me of two months, and I have never quite recovered a condition in which the strict duties of the day are not felt as a weight. But just now we are having some clear spring days, and I am in hope of prospering better, the sunshine being to me the greatest visible good of life—what I call the wealth of life, after love and trust.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 8th Mch. 1872.

When I am more at liberty I will certainly read [111] Mr. Owen's books, if he is good enough to send them to me. I desire on all subjects to keep an open mind, but hitherto the various phenomena reported or attested in connection with ideas of spirit-intercourse, "psychion," and so on, have come before me here in the painful form of the lowest charlatanerie. Take Mr. H. as an example of what I mean. I could not choose to enter a room where he held a séance. He is an object of moral disgust to me; and nothing of late reported by Mr. Crookes, Lord Lindsay, and the rest carries conviction to my mind that Mr. H. is not simply an impostor, whose professedly abnormal manifestations have varied their fashion in order to create a new market, just as if they were papier mâché wares or pomades for the idle rich. But apart from personal contact with people who get money by public exhibitions as mediums, or with semi-idiots, such as those who make a court for a Mrs. Guppy or other feminine personage of that kind, I would not willingly place any barriers between my mind and any possible channel of truth affecting the human lot.

The spirit in which you have written in the paper you kindly sent me is likely to teach others—to rouse them, at least, to attention in a case where you have been deeply impressed.

I write to you quite openly, dear friend, but very imperfectly, for my letters are always written in shreds of time.

Letter to John Blackwood, 14th Mch. 1872.

Thanks for the budget of this morning. The sales, we think, are very cheering, and we may well be content if they continue in the same ratio. But the Greek proverb about the beginning being the half of the whole wants as much defining and excepting from as most other proverbs. [112]

I have just had sent me a copy of the magazine Für die Literatur des Auslander, containing a review of "Miss Brooke," which will be good for Asher's edition, and is otherwise satisfactory as an intelligent appreciation. It mentions at the end the appearance of Mr. Main's book, "The Sayings." A Frenchman, apparently accomplished, a M. Landolphe, who has made some important translations, is going to translate the whole of "Middlemarch;" and one of the contributors to the Revue des Deux Mondes has written for leave to extract Dorothea's history.

I fancy we have done a good turn to English authors generally by setting off Asher's series, for we have heard that Tauchnitz has raised his offers. There is another way in which benefit might come that would be still more desirable—namely, to make him more careful in his selections of books for reprint. But I fear that this effect is not so certain. You see Franz Duncker, who publishes the German translation of "Middlemarch," has also begun an English series. This is really worth while, for the Germans are excellent readers of our books. I was astonished to find so many in Berlin who really knew one's books, and did not merely pay compliments after the fashion of the admirers who made Rousseau savage—running after him to pay him visits, and not knowing a word of his writing.

You and other good readers have spoiled me, and made me rather shudder at being read only once; and you may imagine how little satisfaction I get from people who mean to please me by saying that they shall wait till "Middlemarch" is finished, and then sit up to read it "at one go-off."

We are looking for a country retreat not too far [113] from town, so that we may run up easily. There is nothing wanting to our happiness except that "Middlemarch" should be well ended without growing signs of its author's debility.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 17th March, 1872.

Before I received your letter this morning, I was going to write you a word of sympathy, knowing how deeply you would be feeling the death of Mazzini. Such a man leaves behind him a wider good than the loss of his personal presence can take away.

"The greatest gift the hero leaves his race
Is to have been a hero."

I must be excused for quoting my own words, because they are my credo. I enter thoroughly into your sense of wealth in having known him.

Brighton does not suit Mr. Lewes. But he was near going there for a night a little while ago to see our friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Smith. He (the author of "Thorndale," etc.) is, I fear, wasting fatally with organic disease, and we grieve much at the too-probably near parting of a husband and wife who have been among the perfectly happy couples of the world. She is a charming woman, and I wish that you may happen to know her.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d March, 1872.

Owing to my loss of two months in illness, and my infirm health ever since, I have not yet finished the writing of "Middlemarch." This payment of wintry arrears makes one prefer the comforts of a London home; but we are obliged to see more company than my health is equal to, and for this reason I dare say we shall soon migrate. To-day we have been to our last morning concert—or Saturday Pop.—held on a Friday because of the University boat-race to-morrow. These concerts are an easy pleasure which we are [114] sorry to part with. This is one of my bad weeks, owing probably to the change in the weather, and I am constantly struggling with hemicrania and malaise. Even writing this scrap of a note is the feather too much, and I must leave off. You have known too much of nervous weakness not to understand this.

Journal, 1872.

May 8.—I have been reposing for more than a week in the hope of getting stronger, my life having been lately a swamp of illness, with only here and there a bit of firm walking. In consequence of this incessant interruption (almost every week having been half nullified for me so far as my work has been concerned) I have only finished the fifth book, and have still three books to write—equal to a large volume and a half.

The reception of the book hitherto has been quite beyond what I could have believed beforehand, people exalting it above everything else I have written. Kohn is publishing an English edition in Germany; Duncker is to publish a translation; and Harpers pay me £1200 for reprinting it in America.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 4th June, 1872.

I am glad to know that you are having a time of refreshing in fine scenery, with entire freedom to paint. I am in a corresponding state of relief from the noises and small excitements that break up the day and scatter one's nervous energy in London.

We have been in our hiding-place about twelve days now, and I am enjoying it more and more—getting more bodily ease and mental clearness than I have had for the last six months. Our house is not in the least beautiful, but it is well situated and comfortable, perfectly still in the middle of a garden surrounded by fields and meadows, and yet within reach of shops and civilization.[115]

We managed to get to the Academy one day before leaving town. I was delighted with Walker's picture—were you?—and Mason's unfinished Reaper, and a few, very few, others.

Also we went twice to the opera in order to save ourselves from any yearnings after it when we should have settled in the country.

We tell no one our address, and have our letters sent on from the Priory.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 4th June, 1872.

We too are in a country refuge, you see, and this bit of Surrey, as I dare say you know, is full of beauty of the too garden-like sort for which you pity us. How different from your lodge in the wilderness! I have read your description three or four times—it enchants me so thoroughly—and Mr. Lewes is just as much enamoured of it. We shall never see it, I imagine, except in the mirror of your loving words; but thanks, many and warm, dear friend, for saying that our presence would be welcome. I have always had delight in descriptions of American forests since the early days when I read "Atala," which I believe that you would criticise as half unveracious. I dwelt on the descriptions in "Dred" with much enjoyment.

Pray give my special thanks to the Professor for his letter. His handwriting, which does really look like Arabic—a very graceful character, surely—happens to be remarkably legible to me, and I did not hesitate over a single word. Some of the words, as expressions of fellowship, were very precious to me, and I hold it very good of him to write to me that best sort of encouragement. I was much impressed with the fact—which you had told me—that he was the original of the "visionary boy" in "Old Town Folk;" and it must be deeply interesting to talk with [116] him on his experience. Perhaps I am inclined, under the influence of the facts, physiological and psychological, which have been gathered of late years, to give larger place to the interpretation of vision-seeing as subjective than the Professor would approve. It seems difficult to limit—at least to limit with any precision—the possibility of confounding sense by impressions, derived from inward conditions, with those which are directly dependent on external stimulus. In fact, the division between within and without in this sense seems to become every year a more subtle and bewildering problem.

Your experience with the planchette is amazing; but that the words which you found it to have written were dictated by the spirit of Charlotte Brontë is to me (whether rightly or not) so enormously improbable, that I could only accept it if every condition were laid bare, and every other explanation demonstrated to be impossible. If it were another spirit aping Charlotte Brontë—if here and there at rare spots and among people of a certain temperament, or even at many spots and among people of all temperaments, tricksy spirits are liable to rise as a sort of earth-bubbles and set furniture in movement, and tell things which we either know already or should be as well without knowing—I must frankly confess that I have but a feeble interest in these doings, feeling my life very short for the supreme and awful revelations of a more orderly and intelligible kind which I shall die with an imperfect knowledge of. If there were miserable spirits whom we could help, then I think we should pause and have patience with their trivial-mindedness; but otherwise I don't feel bound to study them more than I am bound to study the special follies of a particular [117] phase of human society. Others who feel differently, and are attracted towards this study, are making an experiment for us as to whether anything better than bewilderment can come of it. At present it seems to me that to rest any fundamental part of religion on such a basis is a melancholy misguidance of men's minds from the true sources of high and pure emotion.

I am comforted to think that you partly agree with me there.

I have not time to write more than this very imperfect fragmentary sketch of only one aspect which the question of spirit-communications wears to me at present—being always rather brain-weary after my morning's work, and called for by my husband to walk with him and read aloud to him. I spend nearly three hours every day in this exercise of reading aloud, which, happily, I can carry on without fatigue of lungs. Yet it takes strength as well as time.

Mr. Lewes is gone into town to-day, so I have an additional hour at liberty, and have been glad to be able to send you a letter which is not worth anything, indeed, but which satisfies my need to thank you and the Professor for your sweet friendliness—very sweet to me, I assure you. Please accept my entire frankness as a proof of that high value I set on you. And do not call anything I may have written a prejudice—it is simply a statement of how certain things appear to my inward eyesight, which I am ready to have rectified by more light.

About photographs—I have no photograph of myself, having always avoided having one taken. That makes me seem very selfish in being particularly glad to get yours.[118]

Mrs. Fields, with the beautiful face and charming manners, sent me a letter a little while ago, inviting us in the most tempting way to go to Boston. She said that this pretty action was done at your prompting, which is just like you as you have always shown yourself to me.

Dear friend, how much you have lived through, both in the flesh and in the spirit! My experience has been narrow compared with yours. I assure you I feel this, so do not misinterpret anything I say to you as being written in a flippant or critical spirit. One always feels the want of the voice and eyes to accompany a letter and give it the right tone.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 4th July, 1872.

You were very good and dear to want to give me the pleasure of knowing that the news was good, instead of leaving me to my small stock of hopefulness. Ask Emily to care a little even now, with baby on her mind, that her old friends are the better for hearing that she is well. Four or five months ago it happens that I was writing some playfulness about a baby and baby's hair, which is now in print, to appear next month. I am not afraid that Emily should be revolted by my blasphemy!

Mr. Lewes had "a lovely time" from Saturday to Monday at Weybridge. He was feeling languid, and yet was tempted to sit at his desk. The little change has been very serviceable, and he is now bright.

Our first book, read aloud by me after we came down, was Wallace's "Eastern Archipelago," which, I think, you had spoken well of to Mr. Lewes. It is delightful. The biography of the infant ourang-outang alone is worth getting the book for. We are now in the middle of Tylor's "Primitive Culture," which is worth studying, and useful for reference on special [119] points, if you happen to want knowledge about the ideas of the savage tribes.

Our days go by in delicious peace, unbroken except by my little inward anxieties about all unfinished work.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 19th July, 1872.

This morning came the joyful news that Gertrude has a fine healthy baby—a daughter. We have just been saying in our walk that by the end of this century our one-day-old granddaughter will probably be married and have children of her own, while we are pretty sure to be at rest. This obvious kind of wisdom does very well for discourse in the delicious sunshine, as we wander over a hilly, half fern-clad, half grassy wilderness called South Park, from which we can overlook two fertile bosky valleys. We like this bit of country better and better. As to health, I am not quite so prosperous as I was at first, but to make amends, Mr. Lewes is in a good average condition, and only now and then has a morning in which he is forced to wander about instead of going to his beloved work. We have had much happiness here, much sympathy in letters from far-off friends unknown in the flesh, and peaceful enjoyment of our occupations. But we have longed for more continuous warmth and brightness, and to-day may perhaps be the beginning of that one wanting condition.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 1st Aug. 1872(?).

The death of that honored, good creature, Mr. William Smith, touched us particularly, because of the perfect marriage-bond which had made the last eleven years of his life unspeakably precious both to him and his wife. Mr. Lewes offered to go to Brighton to see him; but he was so reduced, so very feeble in body, though he kept to the last much brightness of mind, that Mrs. Smith feared for him the excitement of seeing friends who came, specially, from a distance. [120]

Letter to John Blackwood, 4th Aug. 1872.

I like to think that your journey was a success. But I had felt sure, that unless bad health or bad weather overtook you, both Mrs. Blackwood and you must have great happiness in taking that bright, lovely daughter abroad and watching her fresh impressions. I imagine her laudable indignation at the crushing of the little lizard! Those little creatures darting about the stones seem part of the happiness of Italian sunshine, as the small birds hopping after the rain seem part of the moist happiness at home.

I shall send Part VII. in a few days. Since Mr. Lewes tells me that the Spectator considers me the most melancholy of authors, it will perhaps be a welcome assurance to you that there is no unredeemed tragedy in the solution of the story.

Mr. Lewes examines the newspapers before I see them, and cuts out any criticisms which refer to me, so as to save me from these spiritual chills—though, alas! he cannot save me from the physical chills which retard my work more seriously. I had hoped to have the manuscript well out of my hands before we left this place at the end of the month, but the return of my dyspeptic troubles makes me unable to reckon on such a result.

It will be a good plan, I think, to quicken the publication towards the end; but we feel convinced that the slow plan of publication has been of immense advantage to the book in deepening the impression it produces. Still I shudder a little to think what a long book it will be—not so long as "Vanity Fair" or "Pendennis," however, according to my calculation.

How good the articles on French manners and domestic life are in "Maga." The spirit in which they are written is excellent. [121]

The manuscript of "Middlemarch" bears the following inscription:

"To my dear Husband, George Henry Lewes, in this nineteenth year of our blessed union."

Letter to Mrs. Cross, Sept. 1872.

I am tired of behaving like an ungrateful wretch—making no sign in answer to affectionate words which have come to me with cheering effect. And I want to tell you and Mr. Hall (alas! for the dear old name[18] which had such cherished associations) that I long too much to see you all at Six-Mile Bottom, to give up utterly the prospect of that good. We imagine that the place is near Ipswich, which is no more than an hour and fifty minutes from London. If so, the journey would be easily managed, and would be worth taking for the sake of one whole day and two half days with you—just as if you were the hour nearer, at Weybridge—before we set our faces towards Germany. I am not hopeless that we might do that in the second week of September, if you are not quite disgusted with the thought of me as a person who is always claiming pity for small ailments, and also if Mr. Hall can secure me against being shot from the other side of the hedge by the Prince of Wales,[19] while we are discussing plantations.

I dare not count much on fulfilling any project, my life for the last year having been a sort of nightmare, in which I have been scrambling on the slippery bank of a pool, just keeping my head above water. But I shall be the happier for having told you that I delight in the double invitation for the sake of the love it assures me of, and that I do want to see you all.


You are all gloriously well, I hope, and Alkie looking more and more cherubic, and Emily and Florence blooming. My best love to all. Particular regards to J., and regrets that we were not on his route from Brindisi. I read his paper on New York with much interest and satisfaction.

You are often among my imaged companions both in dreaming and waking hours.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, Oct. 1872, from Homburg.

It was a delightful surprise to see your handwriting when we went to inquire at the Poste Restante. We had, on the whole, a fortunate journey, and are especially grateful to Mr. Hall for suggesting the route by Trèves, where we spent two nights and an exquisite day. I was continually reminded of Rome when we were wandering in the outskirts in search of the antiquities, and the river banks are a loveliness into the bargain which Rome has not. We had even an opportunity of seeing some dissipation, for there happened to be an excellent circus, where we spent our evening. The pretty country through which we passed had an additional interest for us about Libramont.

The air, the waters, the plantations here are all perfect—"only man is vile." I am not fond of denouncing my fellow-sinners, but gambling being a vice I have no mind to, it stirs my disgust even more than my pity. The sight of the dull faces bending round the gaming-tables, the raking up of the money, and the flinging of the coins towards the winners by the hard-faced croupiers, the hateful, hideous women staring at the board like stupid monomaniacs—all this seems to me the most abject presentation of mortals grasping after something called a good that can be seen on the face of this little earth. Burglary is heroic compared with it. I get some satisfaction in looking [123] on, from the sense that the thing is going to be put down. Hell is the only right name for such places.

It was cruel to find the bitter cold just set in as we arrived. For two days we were as cold as in clear winter days at Berlin. There are no amusements for the evening here, and the pleasure of listening to the excellent band in the afternoons is diminished by the chillness which makes one fear to sit down in the open air. But we like being idle, and the days pass easily.

It is good to have in our memories the two happy days at Six-Mile Bottom; and the love that surrounded me and took care of me there is something very precious to believe in among hard-faced strangers. Much gratitude for the anticipated letter that will come to tell us more news of you by-and-by.

Letter to John Blackwood, 4th Oct. 1872.

At last I begin a letter which is intended not as a payment but as an acknowledgment of debt. It will have at least the recommendation of requiring no answer. After some perfect autumnal days we are languishing with headache from two days' damp and mugginess, and feel it almost as much work as we are equal to to endure our malaise. But on the whole we are not sorry that we came to this place rather than any other. On dry days the air is perfect, and the waters are really an enticing drink. Then there is a wood close by where we can wander in delicious privacy: which is really better than the company here, save and except a few friends whom we found at first, and who have now moved off to Baden. The Kursaal is to me a hell, not only for the gambling but for the light and heat of the gas, and we have seen enough of its monstrous hideousness. There is very little dramatic Stoff to be picked up by watching or listening. The saddest thing to be witnessed is the play [124] of a young lady, who is only twenty-six years old, and is completely in the grasp of this mean, money-making demon. It made me cry to see her young, fresh face among the hags and brutally stupid men around her. Next year, when the gambling has vanished, the place will be delightful; there is to be a subvention from Government to keep up the beautiful grounds; and it is likely that there will be increase enough in the number of decent visitors to keep the town tolerably prosperous. One attraction it has above other German baths that I have seen is the abundance of pleasant apartments to be had, where one can be as peaceful as the human lot allows in a world of pianos.

Asher's cheap editions are visible everywhere by the side of Tauchnitz, but the outside is not, I think, quite equally recommendable and recommending.

We brought no books with us, but have furnished our table with German books which we bought at Frankfort, from learned writing about Menschlich Sprache and Vernunft down to Kotzebue's comedies, so that we have employment for the rainy hours when once our heads are clear of aches. The certainty that the weather is everywhere else bad will help our resolution to stay here till the 12th at least. In the mean time we hope to have the proof of the finale to "Middlemarch."

I am rejoiced to learn from Mr. William's letter that Mr. Simpson has returned from his excursion in good condition. That must be a comfort to you, both for friendship and for work's sake.

We mean to return by Paris, and hope that the weather will not drive us away from health and pleasure-seeking until the end of the month. I fear, from the accounts of your Scottish weather, that you will [125] have enjoyed Strathtyrum less than usual, and will be resigned to Edinburgh before your proper time. How one talks about the weather! It is excusable here where there is no grave occupation, and no amusement for us, who don't gamble, except seeking health in walks and water drinking.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 27th Oct. 1872, from Boulogne.

I had meant to write to you again from Germany, but I was hindered from doing so by the uncertainty of our plans, which vacillated between further wanderings in South Germany and the usual dreary railway journeying by Strasburg to Paris. As it was, we left Homburg on the 13th and had ten days of delicious autumnal weather and quietude at Stuttgart and Carlsruhe—ten days which made the heart of our enjoyment. We still hesitated whether we should go to Augsburg, and even Munich, making our way home through Germany and Belgium, and turning our shoulders on Paris. Our evil genius persuaded us to go to Paris and to make the journey by night—whence came headache and horrible disgust with the shops of the Rue de la Paix and the Boulevard. After going to Versailles in the rain, seeing the sad ruins of the Hotel de Ville, missing the Theatre Français, and getting "Patrie" in exchange, we rushed away to this place, where we are trying to recover the sense of benefit from our change, which forsook us on quitting old Germany. We have an affinity for what the world calls "dull places," and always prosper best in them. We are sure to be at home next week, and I hope before long to have some news of you there—some dear faces coming to bring it. We shall linger here a few days and take a favorable time for crossing, but our patience will hardly last beyond Friday.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 1st Nov. 1872.

We returned yesterday evening from six weeks' absence [126] in Germany, and I found your dear, sad letter among the many awaiting me. I prize very highly the fact that you like to write to me and bear me in your mind as one who has a certain fellowship in your sorrow; and I do trust that this letter may reach you in time to prevent you from thinking, even for a moment, that I could be indifferent about responding to any word you send me. I shall address it to the care of Blackwood & Sons, because I imagine you to be by this time in Edinburgh with that delightful friend, Mrs. Stirling, whom I had much kindness from many years ago when I was on a visit to Mr. and Mrs. George Combe. She took me to hear Dr. Guthrie and Dr. Candlish, and through her I saw Craigcrook. I like to think of those hours and her pleasant talk.

Mr. Lewes, I am thankful to say, has been getting more robust for the last two years, and is very bright and active. I think there is hardly any one left to whom he would so willingly have written or talked about the subjects which are filling his mind as that dear one who is gone from your side, but is perpetually present in your consciousness. To-day I have been reading the memorial article in Blackwood, and have been hoping that there is nothing in it which jars on your feeling. Everybody will think as I do—that the bits from your pen are worth all the rest. I have been especially moved, though, by the two stanzas quoted at the end. Mr. Lewes judges that the writer of the article did not personally know your husband, and wishes that more special touches had been given. I know, dear friend, that the sorrow is irremediable; but the pain—the anguish—will become less sharp and life will be less difficult. You will think of things to do such as he would approve of your doing, and [127] every day will be sacred with his memory—nay, his presence. There is no pretence or visionariness in saying that he is still part of you. Mr. Lewes sends his affectionate regards, which you will not reject. We mention your name to each other with a certain tenderness, as if your sorrow somehow belonged to our love for each other. But I hardly dare to think of what these words which I have written mean. Sometimes in the midst of happiness I cry suddenly at the thought that there must come a parting. Are not you and I very near to one another? I mean in feeling.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 19th Nov. 1872.

I found a letter from dear Mrs. William Smith on my return, and I have had another since in answer to mine. It is inevitable that her sense of loss should deepen for some time to come. I am hoping that by-and-by active interests will arise to make her feel that her life is useful.

The article in Blackwood was chiefly valuable for the extracts it contained from Mrs. Smith's own memoir. One felt that the writer of the article had not known Mr. William Smith personally; but her sketches did something to supply that defect. Mr. Lewes felt a peculiar attachment to him. He had always been thoroughly sympathetic, both morally and intellectually, and it was a constant regret to us that he and Mrs. Smith were so far away. There was no man with whom Mr. Lewes would have found it so pleasant to discuss questions of science and philosophy—his culture was so rare and his disposition so free from littleness: and his wife was worthy of him.

Gertrude's little Blanche is a charming young lady—fat, cooing, and merry. It is a great comfort to see her with this hope fulfilled—I mean to see Gertrude [128] with her hope fulfilled, and not Blanche, as the grammar seemed to imply. That small person's hopes are at present easy of fulfilment.

We have made but one expedition since our return, and that was to see the pictures at Bethnal Green—altogether a cheering and delightful sight. Of course you saw them long ago. The Troyon is my favorite.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Nov. 1872.

I will impute your total silence towards me for many, many months to your preoccupation with the work now announced, and will not believe that a greeting from me at this time of the year will be less welcome than of old. I remember that last year one of your prettily-expressed wishes was that I should write another book and—I think you added—send it to you to read. On the strength of this remembrance, you will be one of the three exceptional people to whom we order "Middlemarch" to be sent. But do not write to me about it, because until a book has quite gone away from me and become entirely of the non-ego—gone thoroughly from the wine-press into the casks—I would rather not hear or see anything that is said about it.

Cara sent me word that you were looking, as usual, very pretty, and showing great energy on interesting occasions. But this was two months ago, and some detailed news from yourself would be a delightful gift.

I am getting stronger, and showing some meagre benefit from being indulged in all possible ways. Mr. Lewes makes a martyr of himself in writing all my notes and business letters. Is not that being a sublime husband? For all the while there are studies of his own being put aside—studies which are a seventh heaven to him.

Is there any one who does not need patience? For [129] when one's outward lot is perfect, the sense of inward imperfection is the more pressing.

You are never long without entering into my thoughts, though you may send nothing fresh to feed them. But I am ashamed of expressing regard for my friends, since I do no earthly thing for them.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1872.

A kiss to you on your birthday! with gratitude for your delightful letter, such as only you can write me. How impossible it is to feel that we are as old as we are! Sometimes it seems a little while since you and I were walking over the Radford fields, with the youth in our limbs, talking and laughing with that easy companionship which it is difficult to find in later life. I am busy now reading Mr. Lewes's manuscript, which has been accumulating fast during my "Middlemarch" time. Did I tell you that in the last two years he has been mastering the principles of mathematics? That is an interesting fact, impersonally, at his age. Old Professor Stowe—Mrs. H. B. Stowe's husband—sent me this story, which is almost better than Topsy. He heard a school-master asking a little black girl the usual questions about creation—who made the earth, the sea, etc. At last came, "And who made you?" Some deliberation was necessary, after which she said, "Nobody; I was so afore." Expect to be immensely disappointed with the close of "Middlemarch." But look back to the Prelude. I wish I could take the wings of the morning every now and then to cheer you with an hour's chat, such as you feel the need of, and then fly back on the wings of the wind. I have the most vivid thoughts of you, almost like a bodily presence; but these do you no good, since you can only believe that I have them—and you are tired of believing after your work is done. [130]

Letter to John Blackwood, 1st Dec. 1872.

Before your letter came, Mr. Lewes had been expressing to me his satisfaction (and he is very hard to satisfy with articles on me) in the genuineness of judgment, wise moderation, and excellent selection of points in "Maga's" review of "Middlemarch." I have just now been reading the review myself—Mr. Lewes had meant at first to follow his rule of not allowing me to see what is written about myself—and I am pleased to find the right moral note struck everywhere, both in remark and quotation. Especially I am pleased with the writer's sensibility to the pathos in Mr. Casaubon's character and position, and with the discernment he shows about Bulstrode. But it is a perilous matter to approve the praise which is given to our own doings.

I think that such an article as that which you hint at on the tone of the Bar is very desirable. We are usually at one on points of feeling. Is it not time now to insist that ability and not lying is the force of a barrister—that he has not to make himself a bad actor in order to put a case well, but to get the clearness and breadth of vision which will enable him to handle the evidence effectively? Untruthfulness usually ends by making men foolish. I have never read "Spiritual Wives," but judging from the extracts which have come before me, it must be a nasty book. Still, if people will be censors, let them weigh their words. I mean that the words were unfair by the disproportionateness of the condemnation which everybody with some conscience must feel to be one of the great difficulties in denouncing a particular person. Every unpleasant dog is only one of many, but we kick him because he comes in our way, and there is always some want of distributive justice in the kicking. [131]

I shall be agreeably surprised if there is a respectable subscription for the four volumes. Already the numbers taken have been satisfactorily large, considering the indisposition of the public to buy books by comparison with other wares, and especially to buy novels at a high price. I fancy every private copy has done duty for a circle. Friends of mine in the country have implied that they lent their copies to all the readers in their neighborhood. A little fuss of advertisement, together with the reviews, will perhaps create a few more curious inquirers after the book, and impress its existence on the slower part of the reading world. But really the reading world is, after all, very narrow, as, according to the Spectator, the "comfortable" world also is—the world able to give away a sovereign without pinching itself. Those statistics just given about incomes are very interesting.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 11th Dec. 1872.

A thousand thanks for your kind interest in our project, and for the trouble you have taken in our behalf. I fear the land buying and building[20] is likely to come to nothing, and our construction to remain entirely of the aerial sort. It is so much easier to imagine other people doing wise things than to do them one's self! Practically, I excel in nothing but paying twice as much as I ought for everything. On the whole, it would be better if my life could be done for me, and I could look on. However, it appears that the question of the land at Shere may remain open until we can discuss it with you at Weybridge; and there is no telling what we may not venture on with your eyes to see through.


But, oh dear, I don't like anything that is troublesome under the name of pleasure.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 12th Dec. 1872.

I have had the news that you are safely landed at Pooree, so now I can write with some courage. I have got some comfort—I trust it is not false comfort—out of the probability that there will be much good mingled with the evil of this winter's exile for you. You must be the richer for it mentally, and your health may be the better—and then, you will be back again in the late spring. In this way I make myself contented under the incompleteness of our life without you, and I am determined not to grumble at my share of the loss which falls so sadly on Dr. Congreve and the children. Dr. Congreve kindly let me know when you had got through the trials of the Red Sea, rather better than might have been expected; and Sophie tells me that you speak of the brilliant coloring in your new world as quite equal to any description you had read. Beyond that all is a blank to me except the fact of your arrival at Pooree, and all my feeling is taken up with the joy there must have been in the meeting with Mr. Geddes. You find it very difficult to write in the heat—so don't make the thought of me disagreeable by associating it with a claim on you for a letter. I will be grateful for scraps from your correspondence with home, and wait for my turn when you come back to us. For ourselves, we think our little granddaughter, Blanche, the perfection of a baby. She is, dispassionately speaking, very pretty, and has a cooing, chanting song of her own which it makes me happy to hear. Mr. Lewes goes on at his writing with as much interest as ever, and is bringing the first part of his work into its final shape. Since we came home I have been reading his manuscript, [133] which has been piling itself up in preparation for my leisure, and I have been wearing my gravest philosophic cap. Altogether we are dangerously happy. You remember Mrs. Blank of Coventry? You know hers was another name for astonishing cleverness in that town. Now, of course, she is old, and her cleverness seems to have a mouldy flavor. Apropos of the seventh book of "Middlemarch"—which you may not have read, but never mind—Mrs. Blank, having lain awake all night from compassion for Bulstrode, said, "Poor, dear creature, after he had done so much for that wretch, sitting up at night and attending on him! and I don't believe it was the brandy that killed him—and what is to become of Bulstrode now, he has nobody left but Christ!" I think this is worth sending to India, you see; it is a little bit of old Coventry life that may make you and Emily laugh with all the more lively memory in the midst of your strange scenery. But there is a hovering terror while I write to you from far off, lest my trivialities should find you when you are ill or have some cause for being sad. In any case, however, you will take my letter for a simple proof that I dwell on you and Emily as images constantly present in my mind, and very often moving to the foreground in my contemplation. Mr. Lewes is one with me in many affectionate thoughts about you, and your names are often on our lips. We are going to pass the Christmas week with our friends at Weybridge; and I shall be glad to escape the London aspects of that season—aspects that are without any happy association for me. Mr. Lewes has just been in to speak to me, and begs me to say that he hopes baby is raised to the nth power. You see the lofty point of view from which he regards the [134] world at present. But there is enough of the sap of affection in him to withstand all the dryness of the dryest mathematics, and he has very hearty regards for you all, including Mr. Geddes, not as a matter of course, but with special emphasis. Good-bye, dear, dear friend. May it give you some little satisfaction to think of me as yours always lovingly.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 18th Dec. 1872.

Your letter was very welcome to me. I wanted to know how you were; and I think that I discern in your words some growth of courage to face the hard task—it is a hard task—of living a separate life. I reckon it a great good to me that any writing of mine has been taken into companionship by you, and seemed to speak with you of your own experience. Thank you for telling me of that.

This weather, which is so melancholy in the privation it must cause to those who are worst off in the world, adds a little weight to everybody's griefs. But I trust that you find it a comfort, not an oppression, to be among friends who make a little claim on your attention. When you go to How, please tell me all about the place, and whom you have near you, because I like to be able to imagine your circumstances.

I have been, and am still, reading Mr. Lewes's manuscript—and I often associate this with your dear husband, to whom I imagine mine would have liked to send his proofs when the matter had reached the printing stage.

We are both very well, and Mr. Lewes is enjoying his morning at his desk. He likes very much to be included in your love, and has always thought you one of the most charming women among our acquaintance. Please not to say that he has bad taste in women. We both cherish very tender thoughts of [135] your sorrow, dear friend. Let me always be assured that you think of me as yours affectionately.

Letter to Mr. Simpson, 18th Dec. 1872.

We have to thank you for two things especially. First, for the good bargain you have made for "Middlemarch" with Australia; and secondly, for the trouble you have kindly taken with the MS., which has come to us safely in its fine Russian coat.

The four volumes, we imagine, must have been subscribed long ago; and we should be glad to know, if it were convenient—perhaps even if it were inconvenient—what are the figures representing the courage of "the trade" in the matter of a 42s. novel, which has already been well distributed.

We both hope that your health is well confirmed, and that you are prepared for Christmas pleasures, among which you would probably, like Caleb Garth, reckon the extra "business" which the jolly season carries in its hinder wallet.




Poem on Agatha—Reading on Philology, "Iliad," "Faery Queen," Clough's Poems, Bright's Speeches, "Volpone," Lecture by Sir Wm. Thomson—Writing "How Lisa Loved the King"—Browning and Rector of Lincoln on Versification—Letter to Miss Hennell—Browning's "Elisha"—Fourth visit to Italy—Two months away—Letter to Mrs. Congreve from Paris—Dr. Congreve's Reply to Professor Huxley in Fortnightly—Meeting in Rome with Mrs. Bullock and Mr. and Mrs. Cross—Letter to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe—Effect of books—Religion of the future—Arrival of Thornton Lewes from Natal—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Marriage engagements of Mr. Beesley, Mr. Frederic Harrison, and Dr. Clifford Allbut—Finished five "Sonnets on Childhood"—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—"Old Town Folks"—Presentation of alien religious convictions—Spiritualism—Reading Drayton and Grote—Writing Introduction to "Middlemarch"—Reading Theocritus—Burne-Jones's Pictures—Reading Littré on Comte—Sainte Beuve—Thornton Lewes's continued illness—Visit to Mrs. Cross at Weybridge—Reading for "Middlemarch"—Asks Mrs. Congreve to get information about provincial hospitals—Letter to Miss Hennell—The Byron scandal—Byron a vulgar-minded genius—The Kovilevskys—"Legend of Jubal" begun—Mr. W. G. Clark—Reading Max Müller—Lecky and Herbert Spencer—Death of Thornton Lewes—Letter to Miss Hennell describing month's visit to Limpsfield—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Mr. Doyle—Letter to F. Harrison on the Positivist Problem—Aversion to personal statements—Shrinking from deliverances—Letter to Miss Hennell on Charles Hennell's "Inquiry"—Letter to Mrs. Congreve from Berlin—Sees Mommsen, Bunsen, and Du Bois Reymond—Visit to Vienna—Return to London—Three days' visit to the Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, and Mrs. Pattison—Meets Sir Benjamin Brodie—Professor Rawlinson and Professor Phillips—Dr. Rolleston and the Miss Gaskells, and Miss Arnold—Mr. Jowett, Professor Henry Smith, and Mr. Fowler—Re-reading Grove "On the Correlation of the Physical Forces"—Letter to Miss Hennell—Dickens's Death, and his story of President Lincoln—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Visit to Cromer—Growing dislike of migratory life—Letter to Mrs. Lytton on the death of Lord Clarendon—Danger of women living too exclusively in the affections—Reading Mendelssohn's letters—From Cromer to Harrogate and Whitby—Meets Mrs. Burne-Jones there—"Armgart" begun—Three weeks' visit to Limpsfield—Letter to Miss Hennell on the beginning of the war between Germany and France—Jowett's "Plato"—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—The French nation—"Armgart" finished at Limpsfield—Return to the Priory—Letter to Miss Hennell—A popular preacher—Growing influence of ideas—Goethe's contempt for revolution of 1830—Letter to Mme. Bodichon on the faults of one's friends—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Industrial schemes—Greater cheerfulness—Frederic Harrison on Bismarckism—Writing "Miss Brooke"—Reading Wolf's "Prolegomena to Homer" and "Wilhelm Meister"—Visit to Mme. Bodichon at Ryde—Letter to Miss Hennell—Ritualism at Ryde—Brutalizing effect of German war—Trollope's "Sir Harry Hotspur"—Limits of woman's constancy—Miss Bury's engagement to Mr. Geddes—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Three and a half months' visit to Petersfield—Mode of life—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Lowell's "My Study Windows"—"Diethelm von Buchenberg" in Deutschen Novellenschatz—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Mrs. Geddes's marriage—Letter to John Blackwood—Relinquishment of Scott Commemoration—Captain Lockhart—Letter to John Blackwood on MS. of "Middlemarch"—Visit from Tennyson—Letter to Mrs. Lytton on death of her son—Letter to Miss Mary Cross on story in Macmillan's Magazine—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Suffering from cold—Got's acting—Crystal Palace music—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Delight in intellectual activity—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Enjoyment of Cherrimans—Letter to John Blackwood—Visit to Weybridge—Mr. Main, the collector of the "Sayings"—Reception of "Middlemarch"—Letters to Miss Hennell—Foster's "Life of Dickens"—Low health—Tichborne trial—Letters to John Blackwood: pleased with the "Sayings"—Visit to Weybridge—Length of "Middlemarch"—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Reading Johnson's "Lives of the Poets"—Finished second volume of "Middlemarch"—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—Spiritualistic phenomena—Letter to John Blackwood—German and French interest in "Middlemarch"—Asher's edition—German readers—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor on death of Mazzini—Letter to Miss Hennell—Low health—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—Spirit communications—Letter to Mrs. Congreve on Wallace's "Eastern Archipelago"—Tylor's "Primitive Culture"—Letter to John Blackwood—"Middlemarch" finished—Letter to Mrs. Cross on invitation to Six-Mile Bottom, Cambridge—Month's visit to Homburg—Letter to Mrs. Cross—Trèves—On gambling at Homburg—Letter to John Blackwood—Play of a young lady at Homburg—German reading—Letter to Mrs. Cross from Boulogne—Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith of condolence on loss of her husband—Memorial article on Mr. Wm. Smith—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor on Mr. Wm. Smith—Letters to Miss Hennell—Presentation copies of "Middlemarch"—Mr. Lewes studying mathematics—Letter to John Blackwood—"Maga's" review of "Middlemarch"—Tone of the Bar—Letter to J. W. Cross on building a house at Shere—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Happiness—Story of Coventry lady and Bulstrode—Letter to Mr. Simpson—MS. of "Middlemarch."




Journal, 1873.

Jan. 1.—At the beginning of December the eighth and last book of "Middlemarch" was published, the three final numbers having been published monthly. No former book of mine has been received with more enthusiasm—not even "Adam Bede;" and I have received many deeply affecting assurances of its influence for good on individual minds. Hardly anything could have happened to me which I could regard as a greater blessing than the growth of my spiritual existence when my bodily existence is decaying. The merely egoistic satisfactions of fame are easily nullified by toothache, and that has made my chief consciousness for the last week. This morning, when I was in pain, and taking a melancholy breakfast in bed, some sweet-natured creature sent a beautiful bouquet to the door for me, bound round with the written wish that "Every year may be happier and happier, and that God's blessing may ever abide with the immortal author of 'Silas Marner.'" Happily my dear husband is well, and able to enjoy these things for me. That he rejoices in them is my most distinct personal pleasure in such tributes.

Letter to John Blackwood, 3d Jan. 1873.

It was very pleasant to have your greeting on the New Year, though I was keeping its advent in melancholy guise. I am relieved now from the neuralgic part of my ailment, and am able to write something of the hearty response I feel to your good wishes.

We both hope that the coming year may continue [139] to you all the family joys which must make the core of your happiness, without underrating golf and good contributors to "Maga." Health has to be presupposed as the vehicle of all other good, and in this respect you may be possibly better off in '73 than in '72, for I think you have had several invalidings within the last twelve months.

Mr. Langford wrote yesterday that he knew of an article on "Middlemarch" being in preparation for the Times, which certainly was never before so slow in noticing a book of mine. Whether such an article will affect the sale favorably seems eminently uncertain, and can only complicate Mr. Simpson's problem.

We have been glad to welcome our good friend, Mr. Anthony Trollope, after his long absence. He is wonderfully full of life and energy, and will soon bring out his two thick volumes on Australian colonies.

My friendly Dutch publishers lately sent us a handsome row of volumes—George Eliot's "Romantische Werke," with an introduction, in which comparisons are safely shrouded for me in the haze of Dutch, so that if they are disadvantageous, I am not pained.

Please give my best wishes for the coming year to Mr. William Blackwood.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 4th Jan. 1873.

At last I break my silence, and thank you for your kind care about me. I am able to enjoy my reading at the corner of my study fire, and am at that unpitiable stage of illness which is counterbalanced by extra petting. I have been fearing that you too may be undergoing some malaise of a kindred sort, and I should like to be assured that you have quite got through the troubles which threatened you.

How good you have all been to me, and what a disappointing investment of affection I have turned out! [140] But those evening drives, which perhaps encouraged the faceache, have left me a treasure of picture and poetry in my memory quite worth paying for, and in these days all prices are high.

The new year began very prettily for me at half-past eight in the morning with a beautiful bouquet, left by an unknown at our door, and an inscription asking that "God's blessing might ever abide with the immortal author of 'Silas Marner.'"

Letter to John Blackwood, 25th Feb. 1873.

I am much pleased with the color and the lettering of the guinea edition, and the thinner paper makes it delightfully handy. Let us hope that some people still want to read it, since a friend of ours, in one short railway bit to and fro, saw two persons reading the paper-covered numbers. Now is the moment when a notice in the Times might possibly give a perceptible impulse.

Kohn, of Berlin, has written to ask us to allow him to reprint the "Spanish Gypsy" for £50, and we have consented. Some Dresdener, who has translated poems of Tennyson's, asked leave to translate the "Spanish Gypsy" in 1870, but I have not heard of his translation appearing.

The rain this morning is welcome, in exchange for the snow, which in London has none of its country charms left to it. Among my books, which comfort me in the absence of sunshine, is a copy of the "Handy Royal Atlas" which Mr. Lewes has got for me. The glorious index is all the more appreciable by me, because I am tormented with German historical atlases which have no index, and are covered with names swarming like ants on every map.

The catalogue coming in the other day renewed my longing for the cheap edition of Lockhart's novels, though I have some compunction in teasing your busy [141] mind with my small begging. I should like to take them into the country, where our days are always longer for reading.

I have a love for Lockhart because of Scott's Life, which seems to me a perfect biography. How different from another we know of!

Letter to John Blackwood, 28th Feb. 1873.

After your kind words I will confess that I should very much like to have the "Manual of Geography" by Mackay, and Bayne's "Port Royal Logic."

À propos of the "Lifted Veil," I think it will not be judicious to reprint it at present. I care for the idea which it embodies and which justifies its painfulness. A motto which I wrote on it yesterday perhaps is a sufficient indication of that idea:

"Give me no light, great heaven, but such as turns
To energy of human fellowship;
No powers, save the growing heritage
That makes completer manhood."

But it will be well to put the story in harness with some other productions of mine, and not send it forth in its dismal loneliness. There are many things in it which I would willingly say over again, and I shall never put them in any other form. But we must wait a little. The question is not in the least one of money, but of care for the best effect of writing, which often depends on circumstances, much as pictures depend on light and juxtaposition.

I am looking forward with interest to "Kenelm Chillingly," and thinking what a blessed lot it is to die on just finishing a book, if it could be a good one. I mean, it is blessed only to quit activity when one quits life.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 1st Mch. 1873.

If I had been quite sure of your address I should have written to you even before receiving your dear [142] letter, over which I have been crying this morning. The prompting to write to you came from my having ten days ago read your Memoir—brief yet full—of the precious last months before the parting. Mrs. P. Taylor brought me her copy as a loan. But may I not beg to have a copy of my own? It is to me an invaluable bit of writing; the inspiration of a great sorrow, born of a great love, has made it perfect; and ever since I read it I have felt a strengthening companionship from it. You will perhaps think it strange when I tell you that I have been more cheerful since I read the record of his sweet, mild heroism, which threw emphasis on every blessing left in his waning life, and was silent over its pangs. I have even ventured to lend this copy, which is not my own, to a young married woman of whom I am very fond, because I think it is an unforgetable picture of that union which is the ideal of marriage, and which I desire young people to have in their minds as a goal.

It is a comfort in thinking of you that you have two lovable young creatures with you. I have found quite a new interest in young people since I have been conscious that I am getting older; and if all personal joy were to go from me as it has gone from you, I could perhaps find some energy from that interest, and try to teach the young. I wish, dear friend, it were possible to convey to you the sense I have of a great good in being permitted to know of your happiness, and of having some communion with the sorrow which is its shadow. Your words have a consecration for me, and my husband shares my feeling. He sends his love along with mine. He sobbed with something which is a sort of grief better worth having than any trivial gladness, [143] as he read the printed record of your love. He, too, is capable of that supreme, self-merging love.

Letter to John Blackwood, 14th Mch. 1873.

This is good news about the guinea edition, but I emphatically agree with you that it will be well to be cautious in further printing. I wish you could see a letter I had from California the other day, apparently from a young fellow, and beginning, "Oh, you dear lady! I who have been a Fred Vincy ever so long ... have played vagabond and ninny ever since I knew the meaning of such terms," etc., etc.

I am sorry to infer, from what you say about being recommended to go to a German bath, that you have been out of health lately. There really is a good deal of curative virtue in the air, waters, and exercise one gets at such places, and if the boredom were not strong enough to counteract the better influences, it would be worth while to endure.

That phrase of Miss Stuart's—"fall flat on the world"—is worth remembering. I should think it is not likely to prove prophetic, if she is at all like her cousin, whose fair, piquant face remains very vividly before me. The older one gets, the more one delights in these young things, rejoicing in their joys.

The ministerial crisis interests me, though it does not bring me any practical need for thinking of it, as it does to you. I wish there were some solid, philosophical Conservative to take the reins—one who knows the true functions of stability in human affairs, and, as the psalm says, "Would also practice what he knows."

Letter to Edward Burne-Jones, 20th Mch. 1873.

I suppose my hesitation about writing to you to tell you of a debt I feel towards you is all vanity. If you did not know me, you might think a great deal more of my judgment than it is worth, and I should feel bold in that possibility. But when judgment is understood [144] to mean simply one's own impression of delight, one ought not to shrink from making one's small offering of burnt clay because others can give gold statues.

It would be narrowness to suppose that an artist can only care for the impressions of those who know the methods of his art as well as feel its effects. Art works for all whom it can touch. And I want in gratitude to tell you that your work makes life larger and more beautiful to me. I mean that historical life of all the world, in which our little personal share often seems a mere standing-room from which we can look all round, and chiefly backward. Perhaps the work has a strain of special sadness in it—perhaps a deeper sense of the tremendous outer forces which urge us, than of the inner impulse towards heroic struggle and achievement—but the sadness is so inwrought with pure, elevating sensibility to all that is sweet and beautiful in the story of man and in the face of the earth that it can no more be found fault with than the sadness of mid-day, when Pan is touchy, like the rest of us. Don't you agree with me that much superfluous stuff is written on all sides about purpose in art? A nasty mind makes nasty art, whether for art or any other sake; and a meagre mind will bring forth what is meagre. And some effect in determining other minds there must be, according to the degree of nobleness or meanness in the selection made by the artist's soul.

Your work impresses me with the happy sense of noble selection and of power determined by refined sympathy. That is why I wanted to thank you in writing, since lip-homage has fallen into disrepute.

I cannot help liking to tell you a sign that my delight must have taken a little bit of the same curve as [145] yours. Looking, à propos of your picture, into the "Iphigenia in Aulis," to read the chorus you know of, I found my blue pencil-marks made seven years ago (and gone into that forgetfulness which makes my mind seem very large and empty)—blue pencil-marks made against the dance—loving Kithara and the footsteps of the muses and the nereids dancing on the shining sands. I was pleased to see that my mind had been touched in a dumb way by what has touched yours to fine utterance.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 15th April, 1873

Welcome back to Europe! What a comfort to see your handwriting dated from San Remo—to think that Dr. Congreve's anxieties about your voyage are at an end, and that you are once more in the post which is more specially and permanently yours! Mr. Lewes finds fault with your letter for not telling enough; but the mere fact of your safety seems to fill it quite full for me, and I can think of no drawbacks—not even of the cold, which I hope is by this time passing away for you, as it is for us. You must be so rich in memories that we and our small ordinary news must appear very flat to you, but we will submit to be a little despised by you if only we can have you with us again. I have never lost the impression of Dr. Congreve's look when he paid us his farewell visit, and spoke of his anxiety about your voyage, fearing that you had started too late; and that impression gives me all the keener sympathy with the repose I trust he is feeling. About ourselves I have only good news to tell. We are happier than ever, and have no troubles. We are searching for a country-house to go to at the end of May or earlier. I long for the perfect peace and freedom of the country again. The hours seem to stretch themselves there, and to hold twice as much [146] thought as one can get into them in town, where acquaintances and small claims inevitably multiply.

Imagine us nearly as we were when we last saw you—only a little older—with unchanged affection for you and undimmed interest in whatever befalls you. Do not tax yourself to write unless you feel a pleasure in that imperfect sort of communication. I will try not to fear evil if you are silent, but you know that I am glad to have something more than hope to feed on.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 25th April, 1873.

It was a cordial to me this morning to learn that you have the project of going with your young friend to Cambridge at the end of the autumn. I could not have thought of anything better to wish for on your behalf than that you should have the consciousness of helping a younger life. I know, dear friend, that so far as you directly are concerned with this life the remainder of it can only be patience and resignation. But we are not shut up within our individual life, and it is one of the gains of advancing age that the good of young creatures becomes a more definite, intense joy to us. With that renunciation for ourselves which age inevitably brings, we get more freedom of soul to enter into the life of others; what we can never learn they will know, and the gladness which is a departed sunlight to us is rising with the strength of morning to them.

I am very much interested in the fact of young women studying at Cambridge, and I have lately seen a charming specimen of the pupils at Hitchin—a very modest, lovely girl, who distinguished herself in the last examination. One is anxious that, in the beginning of a higher education for women—the immediate value of which is chiefly the social recognition of its [147] desirableness—the students should be favorable subjects for experiment, girls or young women whose natures are large and rich enough not to be used up in their efforts after knowledge.

Mr. Lewes is very well and goes on working joyously. Proofs come in slowly, but he is far from being ready with all the manuscript which will be needed for his preliminary volume—the material, which has long been gathered, requiring revision and suggesting additions.

Do think it a privilege to have that fine physique of yours instead of a headachy, dyspeptic frame such as many women drag through life. Even in irremediable sorrow it is a sort of blasphemy against one's suffering fellow-beings to think lightly of any good which they would be thankful for in exchange for something they have to bear.

Journal, 1873.

May 19.—We paid a visit to Cambridge at the invitation of Mr. Frederick Myers, and I enjoyed greatly talking with him and some others of the "Trinity Men." In the evenings we went to see the boat-race, and then returned to supper and talk—the first evening with Mr. Henry Sidgwick, Mr. Jebb, Mr. Edmund Gurney; the second, with young Balfour, young Lyttelton, Mr. Jackson, and Edmund Gurney again. Mrs. and Miss Huth were also our companions during the visit. On the Tuesday morning we breakfasted at Mr. Henry Sidgwick's with Mr. Jebb, Mr. W. G. Clark, Mr. Myers, and Mrs. and Miss Huth.

May 22.—We went to the French play at the Princess's and saw Plessy and Desclée in "Les Idées de Madame Aubray." I am just finishing again Aristotle's "Poetics," which I first read in 1856.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 25th May, 1873.

Our plans have been upset by the impossibility of [148] finding a house in the country that is suitable to us, and weariness of being deluded into journeys of investigation by fanciful advertisements has inclined Mr. Lewes for the present to say that we will go abroad. Still, I have nothing to tell that is absolutely settled, and I must ask you, when you return, to send a note to this house. If I am in England it will be forwarded to me, and you will get a prompt answer. If I am silent you will conclude that I am gone abroad. I think it is at the end of June that you are to come home?

Here we have been wearing furs and velvet, and having fires all through the past week, chiefly occupied by Mr. Lewes and me in a visit to Cambridge. We were invited ostensibly to see the boat-race, but the real pleasure of the visit consisted in talking with a hopeful group of Trinity young men. On Monday we had a clear, cold day, more like the fine weather of mid-winter than any tradition of May time. I hope that you have had no such revisiting of winter at San Remo. How much we should enjoy having you with us to narrate everything that has happened to you in the last eventful half year! I shall feel the loss of this, as an immediate prospect, to be the greatest disadvantage in our going abroad next month—if we go.

Your last news of Emily and of "baby's teeth" is cheerful. "Baby's teeth" is a phrase that enters much into our life just now. Little Blanche had a sad struggle with her first little bit of ivory, but she has been blooming again since, and is altogether a ravishing child. To-day we have had a large collection of visitors, and I have the usual Sunday evening condition of brain. But letters are so constantly coming and claiming my time to answer them, that I get [149] fidgety lest I should neglect to write to you; and I was determined not to let another day pass without letting you have a proof that I think of you. When I am silent please believe that the silence is due to feebleness of body, which narrows my available time. Mr. Lewes often talks of you, and will value any word from you about yourself as much as I shall.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 2d June, 1873.

Thanks for sending me word of poor Miss Rebecca Franklin's death. It touches me deeply. She was always particularly good and affectionate to me, and I had much happiness in her as my teacher.

In September a house near Chislehurst will be open to us—a house which we think of ultimately making our sole home, turning our backs on London. But we shall be allowed to have it, furnished, for a year on trial.

Journal, 1873.

June.—In the beginning of June we paid a visit to Mr. Jowett at Oxford, meeting there Mr. and Mrs. Charles Roundell, then newly married. We stayed from Saturday to Monday, and I was introduced to many persons of interest. Professor T. Green, Max Müller, Thomson, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, a Mr. Wordsworth, the grandson of the poet, who had spent some time in India, and a host of others.

June 23.—Started for the Continent. Fontainebleau, Plombières, etc.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 9th Aug. 1873.

I feel myself guilty that I have allowed the vicissitudes of travelling to hinder me from writing to you, for the chance that a letter from me might be welcome to you in what I have been imagining as the first weeks of your return to England and the house in Mecklenburgh Square. I am sure that I should not have been guilty in this way if I had been at any time [150] able to say where you should send me an answer which I could call for at a Poste Restante. But we have been invariably uncertain as to the length of our stay in any one place and as to our subsequent route; and I confess that I shrink from writing a letter full of my own doings, without the prospect of getting some news in return. I am usually in a state of fear rather than of hope about my absent friends; and I dread lest a letter written in ignorance about them should be ill-timed. But at last all fears have become weaker than the uneasy sense that I have omitted to send you a sign of your loved presence in my thoughts, and that you may have lost a gleam of pleasure through my omission.

We left home on the 23d of June, with a sketch of a journey in our minds, which included Grenoble, the Grande Chartreuse, Aix-les-Bains, Chambéry, and Geneva. The last place I wished to get to, because my friend Mme. d'Albert is not likely to live much longer, and I thought that I should like to see her once more. But during a short stay at Fontainebleau I began to feel that lengthy railway journeys were too formidable for us old, weak creatures, and, moreover, that July and August were not the best months for those southern regions. We were both shattered, and needed quiet rather than the excitement of seeing friends and acquaintances—an excitement of which we had been having too much at home—so we turned aside by easy stages to the Vosges, and spent about three weeks at Plombières and Luxeuil. We shall carry home many pleasant memories of our journey—of Fontainebleau, for example, which I had never seen before. Then of the Vosges, where we count on going again. Erckmann-Chatrian's books had been an introduction [151] to the lovely region; and several of them were our companions there. But what small experiences these are compared with yours; and how we long for the time when you will be seated with us at our country-house (Blackbrook, near Bromley, is the name of the house), and tell us as much as you can think of about this long year in which we have been deprived of you. If you receive this letter in time to write me a line, which would reach me by the 15th, I shall be most grateful if you will give me that undeserved indulgence.

Letter to John Blackwood, 24th Aug. 1873.

On our return yesterday from our nine-weeks' absence I found a letter from Mr. Main, in which he shows some anxiety that I should write you the "formal sanction" you justly require before admitting extracts from "Middlemarch" in the new edition of the "Sayings." I have no objection, if you see none, to such an enlargement of the volume, and I satisfy our good Mr. Main's promptitude by writing the needed consent at once.

We used our plan of travel as "a good thing to wander from," and went to no single place (except Fontainebleau) to which we had beforehand projected going.

Our most fortunate wandering was to the Vosges—to Plombières and Luxeuil—which have made us in love with the mode of life at the Eaux of France, as greatly preferable to the ways of the German Bad.

We happened to be at Nancy just as the Germans were beginning to quit it, and we saw good store of tricolores and paper lanterns ready in the shop windows for those who wished to buy the signs of national rejoicing. I can imagine that, as a Prussian lady told us, the Germans themselves were not at all rejoiced to [152] leave that pretty town for "les bords de la Spree," where, in French dialogue, all Germans are supposed to live.

Journal, 1873.

Sept. 4.—Went to Blackbrook, near Bickley.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 17th Sept. 1873.

Thanks, dear friend, for the difficult exertion you gave to the telling of what I so much wished to know—the details of the trouble[21] which you have all had to go through either directly or sympathetically. But I will not dwell now on what it cost you, I fear, too much pain to recall so as to give me the vivid impressions I felt in reading your letter. The great practical result of such trouble is to make us all more tender to each other; this is a world in which we must pay heavy prices for love, as you know by experience much deeper than mine.

I will gossip a little about ourselves now. We gave up our intention of going far southward, fearing the fatigue of long railway journeys, and the heat (which hardly ever came) of July and August in the region we had thought of visiting. So, after staying a very enjoyable time at Fontainebleau, we went to the Vosges, and at Plombières and Luxeuil we should have felt ourselves in paradise if it had not been for a sad deafness of George's, which kept us uneasy and made us hurry to that undesirable place, Frankfort, in order to consult Spiess. At Frankfort the nearest bath was the also undesirable Homburg; so we spent or wasted a fortnight there, winning little but the joy of getting away again. The journey home, which we took very easily, was interesting—through Metz, Verdun, Rheims, and Amiens.

As to our house, spite of beautiful lawn, tall trees, fine kitchen-garden, and good, invigorating air, we have [153] already made up our minds that it will not do for our home. Still, we have many things to enjoy, but we shall not probably remain here longer than to the end of October.

My motherly love to all such young ones as may be around you. I do not disturb George in order to ask for messages from him, being sure that his love goes with mine.

Letter to John Blackwood, 19th Sept. 1873.

I quite assent to your proposal that there should be a new edition of "Middlemarch" in one volume, at 7s. 6d.—to be prepared at once, but not published too precipitately.

I like your project of an illustration; and the financial arrangements you mention are quite acceptable to me.

For one reason especially I am delighted that the book is going to be reprinted—namely, that I can see the proof-sheets and make corrections. Pray give orders that the sheets be sent to me. I should like the binding to be of a rich, sober color, with very plain Roman lettering. It might be called a "revised edition."

Thanks for the extract from Mr. Collins's letter. I did not know that there was really a Lowick, in a Midland county too. Mr. Collins has my gratitude for feeling some regard towards Mr. Casaubon, in whose life I lived with much sympathy.

When I was at Oxford, in May, two ladies came up to me after dinner: one said, "How could you let Dorothea marry that Casaubon?" The other, "Oh, I understand her doing that, but why did you let her marry the other fellow, whom I cannot bear?" Thus two "ardent admirers" wished that the book had been quite different from what it is.

I wonder whether you have abandoned—as you [154] seemed to agree that it would be wise to do—the project of bringing out my other books in a cheaper form than the present 3s. 6d., which, if it were not for the blemish of the figure illustrations, would be as pretty an edition as could be, and perhaps as cheap as my public requires. Somehow, the cheap books that crowd the stalls are always those which look as if they were issued from Pandemonium.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 11th Oct. 1873.

I am rather ashamed of our grumblings. We are really enjoying the country, and have more than our share of everything. George has happy mornings at his desk now, and we have fine bracing air to walk in—air which I take in as a sort of nectar. We like the bits of scenery round us better and better as we get them by heart in our walks and drives. The house, with all its defects, is very pretty, and more delightfully secluded, without being remote from the conveniences of the world, than any place we have before thought of as a possible residence for us.

I am glad that you have been seeing the Cowper Temples. My knowledge of them has not gone beyond dining with them at Mrs. Tollemache's, and afterwards having a good conversational call from them, but they both struck me very agreeably.

Mr. Henry Sidgwick is a chief favorite of mine—one of whom his friends at Cambridge say that they always expect him to act according to a higher standard than they think of attributing to any other chief man, or of imposing on themselves. "Though we kept our own fellowships without believing more than he did," one of them said to me, "we should have felt that Henry Sidgwick had fallen short if he had not renounced his."

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 12th Oct. 1873.

Our plan is not to give up our London house, but [155] to have a country place as a retreat. We want a good house in a lovely country, away from rows of villas, but within easy reach of all conveniences. This seems an immodest requirement in a world where one good is hardly to be got without renunciation of another. You perceive that we are getting very old and fastidious.

I like to interpret your enjoyment of Brighton and its evening skies as a proof that you flourish there physically. All things are to be endured and counted even as a fuller life, with a body free from pain and depressing sensations of weakness; but illness is a partial death, and makes the world dim to us.

We have no great strength to boast of; but we are so unspeakably happy in all other respects that we cannot grumble at this tax on us as elderly mortals.

Our little Blanche grows in grace, and her parents have great delight in her—Charles being quite as fond a father as if he had beforehand been an idolizer of babies.

Letter to J. W. Cross, Sunday, 20th Oct. 1873.

The chances of conversation were against my being quite clear to you yesterday as to the cases in which it seems to me that conformity is the higher rule. What happened to be said or not said is of no consequence in any other light than that of my anxiety not to appear what I should hate to be—which is surely not an ignoble, egoistic anxiety, but belongs to the worship of the Best.

All the great religions of the world, historically considered, are rightly the objects of deep reverence and sympathy—they are the record of spiritual struggles, which are the types of our own. This is to me pre-eminently true of Hebrewism and Christianity, on which my own youth was nourished. And in this sense I have no antagonism towards any religious belief, but [156] a strong outflow of sympathy. Every community met to worship the highest Good (which is understood to be expressed by God) carries me along in its main current; and if there were not reasons against my following such an inclination, I should go to church or chapel constantly for the sake of the delightful emotions of fellowship which come over me in religious assemblies—the very nature of such assemblies being the recognition of a binding belief or spiritual law, which is to lift us into willing obedience and save us from the slavery of unregulated passion or impulse. And with regard to other people, it seems to me that those who have no definite conviction which constitutes a protesting faith may often more beneficially cherish the good within them and be better members of society by a conformity, based on the recognized good in the public belief, than by a nonconformity which has nothing but negatives to utter. Not, of course, if the conformity would be accompanied by a consciousness of hypocrisy. That is a question for the individual conscience to settle. But there is enough to be said on the different points of view from which conformity may be regarded to hinder a ready judgment against those who continue to conform after ceasing to believe, in the ordinary sense. But with the utmost largeness of allowance for the difficulty of deciding in special cases, it must remain true that the highest lot is to have definite beliefs about which you feel that "necessity is laid upon you" to declare them, as something better which you are bound to try and give to those who have the worse.

Letter to John Blackwood, 5th Nov. 1873.

It was a cheerful accompaniment to breakfast this morning to have a letter from you, with the pretty picture you suggested of Miss Blackwood's first ball. [157] I am glad that I have seen the "little fairy," so as to be able to imagine her.

We are both the better for the delicious air and quiet of the country. We, too, like you, were sorry to quit the woods and fields for the comparatively disturbed life which even we are obliged to lead in town. Letters requesting interviews can no longer be made void by one's absence; and I am much afflicted by these interruptions, which break up the day without any adequate result of good to any mortal. In the country the days have broad spaces, and the very stillness seems to give a delightful roominess to the hours.

Is it not wonderful that the world can absorb so much "Middlemarch" at a guinea the copy? I shall be glad to hear particulars, which, I imagine, will lead to the conclusion that the time is coming for the preparation of a 7s. 6d. edition. I am not fond of reading proofs, but I am anxious to correct the sheets of this edition, both in relation to mistakes already standing, and to prevent the accumulation of others in the reprinting.

I am slowly simmering towards another big book; but people seem so bent on giving supremacy to "Middlemarch" that they are sure not to like any future book so well. I had a letter from Mr. Bancroft (the American ambassador at Berlin) the other day, in which he says that everybody in Berlin reads "Middlemarch." He had to buy two copies for his house; and he found the rector of the university, a stupendous mathematician, occupied with it in the solid part of the day. I am entertaining you in this graceful way about myself because you will be interested to know what are the chances for our literature abroad.

That Ashantee business seems to me hideous. [158] What is more murderous than stupidity? To have a husband gone on such an expedition is a trial that passes my imagination of what it is possible to endure in the way of anxiety.

We are looking forward to the "Inkerman" volume as something for me to read aloud.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 11th Nov. 1873.

During the latter part of our stay at Blackbrook we had become very fond of the neighborhood. The walks and drives round us were delightfully varied—commons, wooded lanes, wide pastures—and we felt regretfully that we were hardly likely to find again a country-house so secluded in a well-inhabited region.

We have seen few people at present. The George Howards are come from a delicious, lonely séjour in a tower of Bamborough Castle!—and he has brought many sketches home. That lodging would suit you, wouldn't it? A castle on a rock washed by the sea seems to me just a paradise for you.

We have been reading John Mill's "Autobiography," like the rest of the world. The account of his early education and the presentation of his father are admirable; but there are some pages in the latter half that one would have liked to be different.

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 6th Dec. 1873.

Our wish to see you after all the long months since June, added to your affectionate invitation, triumphs over our disinclination to move. So, unless something should occur to make the arrangement inconvenient to you, we will join the dear party on your hearth in the afternoon of the 24th, and stay with you till the 26th.

Notwithstanding my trust in your words, I feel a lingering uneasiness lest we should be excluding some one else from enjoying Christmas with you.

J.'s friend, Dr. Andrew Clark, has been prescribing for Mr. Lewes—ordering him to renounce the coffee [159] which has been a chief charm of life to him, but being otherwise mild in his prohibitions.

I hear with much comfort that you are better, and have recovered your usual activity. Please keep well till Christmas, and then love and pet me a little, for that is always very sweet.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 22d Dec. 1873.

In writing any careful presentation of human feelings, you must count on that infinite stupidity of readers who are always substituting their crammed notions of what ought to be felt for any attempt to recall truly what they themselves have felt under like circumstances. We are going to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our friends at Weybridge.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 28th Dec. 1873.

We have been spending our Christmas in the country, and it is only on my return that I got your kind note, with its pretty symbols of remembrance. Such little signs are very sweet, coming from those whom one loves well in spite of long separation. I am very glad to have seen you in your new home, and to be able to imagine you among your household treasures—especially to imagine both you and your husband in enjoyable health. We have been invalidish lately, and have put ourselves under the discipline of Dr. Andrew Clark, who is not one of the "three meat-meals and alcohol" physicians, but rather one of those who try to starve out dyspepsia.

We both send our kind regards to Mr. Taylor, and hope that he may remain robust for his parliamentary campaign. Life, I trust, will deal gently with you in future, dear friend, and give you years of peace after your period of anxiety and of parting from old places and habits.

Journal, 1874.

Jan. 1.—The happy old year, in which we have had constant enjoyment of life, notwithstanding much bodily [160] malaise, is gone from us forever. More than in any former year of my life love has been poured forth to me from distant hearts, and in our home we have had that finish to domestic comfort which only faithful, kind servants can give. Our children are prosperous and happy—Charles evidently growing in mental efficiency; we have abundant wealth for more than our actual needs; and our unspeakable joy in each other has no other alloy than the sense that it must one day end in parting. My dear husband has a store of present and prospective good in the long work which is likely to stretch through the remaining years of his intellectual activity; and there have not been wanting signs that what he has already published is being appreciated rightly by capable persons. He is thinner than ever, but still he shows wonderful elasticity and nervous energy. I have been for a month rendered almost helpless for intellectual work by constant headache, but am getting a little more freedom. Nothing is wanting to my blessings but the uninterrupted power of work. For as to all my unchangeable imperfections I have resigned myself.

Jan. 17.—I received this morning, from Blackwood, the account of "Middlemarch" and of "The Spanish Gypsy" for 1873. Of the guinea edition of "Middlemarch," published in the spring, 2434 copies have been sold. Of "The Spanish Gypsy" 292 copies have been sold during 1873, and the remaining copies are only 197. Thus, out of 4470 which have been printed, 4273 have been distributed.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 12th Feb. 1874.

We have received the volume—your kind and valuable gift—and I have read it aloud with Mr. Lewes, all except the later pages, which we both feel too much to bear reading them in common. You have given a [161] deeply interesting and, we think, instructive picture, and Mr. Lewes has expressed his wish that it had not been restricted to a private circulation. But I understand your shrinking from indiscriminate publicity, at least in the first instance. Perhaps, if many judges on whom you rely concur with Mr. Lewes, you will be induced to extend the possible benefit of the volume. I care so much for the demonstration of an intense joy in life on the basis of "plain living and high thinking" in this time of more and more eager scrambling after wealth and show. And then there are exquisite bits which you have rescued from that darkness to which his self-depreciation condemned them. I think I never read a more exquisite little poem than the one called "Christian Resignation;" and Mr. Lewes, when I read it aloud, at once exclaimed, "How very fine—read it again!" I am also much impressed with the wise mingling of moderation with sympathy in that passage, given in a note, from the article on Greg's "Political Essays."

What must have been the effort which the writing cost you I can—not fully, but almost—imagine. But believe, dear friend, that in our judgment you have not poured out these recollections in a cry of anguish all in vain. I feel roused and admonished by what you have told, and if I—then others.

Letter to John Blackwood, 20th Feb. 1874.

I imagined you absorbed by the political crisis, like the rest of the world except the Lord Chief-justice, who must naturally have felt his summing-up deserving of more attention. I, who am no believer in salvation by ballot, am rather tickled that the first experiment with it has turned against its adherents.

I have been making what will almost certainly be my last corrections of the "Spanish Gypsy," and that [162] causes me to look forward with special satisfaction to the probable exhaustion of the present edition. The corrections chiefly concern the quantity of the word Zincálo, which ought to be Zíncalo; but there are some other emendations; and, altogether, they make a difference to more than seventy pages. But it would still be worth while to retain the stereotypes, replacing simply the amended pages, there being about 400 in the whole book. I am sadly vexed that I did not think of having these corrections ready for the German reprint.

I have been compunctious lately about my having sprinkled cold water on the proposal suggested by Mr. Simpson, of bringing out my novels in a cheaper way—on thinner paper and without illustrations. The compunction was roused by my happening, in looking at old records, to alight on some letters, one especially, written by a working-man, a certain E. Hall,[22] more than ten years ago, begging me to bring out my books in a form cheap enough to let a poor man more easily "get a read of them." Hence, if you and Mr. Simpson see good to revive the design in question, I am perfectly in accord.

You did send me a copy of Lord Lytton's "Fables"—many thanks for doing so. Mr. Lewes had seen several of them in manuscript, and thought well of their merits. I am reading them gradually. They are full of graceful fancies and charming verse. So far as cleverness goes it seems to me he can do almost anything; and the leanings of his mind are towards the best things. The want I feel is of more definiteness and more weight. The two stanzas to his wife, placed before "Far and Near," are perfect.


I think I have never written to you since I wanted to tell you that I admired very much the just spirit in which the notice of Mill's "Autobiography" was written in the Magazine. Poor Dickens's latter years wear a melancholy aspect, do they not? But some of the extracts from his letters in the last volume have surprisingly more freshness and naturalness of humor than any of the letters earlier given. Still, something should be done by dispassionate criticism towards the reform of our national habits in the matter of literary biography. Is it not odious that as soon as a man is dead his desk is raked, and every insignificant memorandum which he never meant for the public is printed for the gossiping amusement of people too idle to re-read his books? "He gave the people of his best. His worst he kept, his best he gave;" but there is a certain set, not a small one, who are titillated by the worst and indifferent to the best. I think this fashion is a disgrace to us all. It is something like the uncovering of the dead Byron's club-foot.

Mr. Lewes is in a more flourishing condition than usual, having been helped by Dr. Andrew Clark, who ministers to all the brain-workers. I have been ill lately: weeks of malaise having found their climax in lumbar-neuralgia, or something of that sort, which gave fits of pain severe enough to deserve even a finer name.

My writing has not been stimulated as Scott's was under circumstances of a like sort, and I have nothing to tell you securely.

Please give an expression of my well-founded sympathy to Mr. William Blackwood. My experience feelingly convinces me of the hardship there must be in his. I trust I shall hear of the lameness as a departed evil.[164]

Letter to John Blackwood, 6th Mch. 1874.

I send you by this post a small collection of my poems, which Mr. Lewes wishes me to get published in May.

Such of them as have been already printed in a fugitive form have been received with many signs of sympathy, and every one of those I now send you represents an idea which I care for strongly, and wish to propagate as far as I can. Else I should forbid myself from adding to the mountainous heap of poetical collections.

The form of volume I have in my eye is a delightful duodecimo edition of Keats's poems (without the "Endymion") published during his life: just the volume to slip in the pocket. Mine will be the least bit thicker.

I should like a darkish green cover, with Roman lettering. But you will consider the physique and price of the book, and kindly let me know your thoughts.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 25th Mch. 1874.

I fear the fatal fact about your story[23] is the absence of God and hell. "My dear madam, you have not presented motives to the children!" It is really hideous to find that those who sit in the scribes' seats have got no further than the appeal to selfishness, which they call God. The old Talmudists were better teachers. They make Rachel remonstrate with God for his hardness, and remind him that she was kinder to her sister Leah than he to his people—thus correcting the traditional God by human sympathy. However, we must put up with our contemporaries, since we can neither live with our ancestors nor with posterity.

It is cheering to see the programme of your new society. There certainly is an awakening of conscience [165] about animals in general as our fellow-creatures—even the vogue of Balaam's ass is in that sense a good sign. A lady wrote to me the other day that when she went to church in the island of Sark the sermon turned on that remonstrant hero or heroine.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 27th Mch. 1874.

I can imagine how great an encouragement you feel from the enthusiasm generously expressed in Mr. C.'s letter. It is always an admirable impulse to express deeply felt admiration, but it is also possible that you have some grateful readers who do not write to you. I have heard men whose greatest delight is literature, say that they should never dream of writing to an author on the ground of his books alone.

Poor Mr. Francis Newman must be aged now and rather weary of the world and explanations of the world. He can hardly be expected to take in much novelty. I have a sort of affectionate sadness in thinking of the interest which, in far-off days, I felt in his "Soul" and "Phases of Faith," and of the awe I had of him as a lecturer on mathematics at the Ladies' College. How much work he has done in the world which has left no deep, conspicuous mark, but has probably entered beneficially into many lives!

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 23d April, 1874.

How glorious this opening spring is! At this moment even London is so beautiful that I come home filled with the Park landscapes, and see them as a background to all my thoughts. Your account of Mr. George Dawson is rather melancholy. I remember him only as a bright, vigorous, young man—such as perhaps his sons are now. I imagine it is his fortune, or, rather, misfortune, to have talked too much and too early about the greatest things.

Letter to Miss Mary Cross, 11th May, 1874.

I could not dwell on your sweet gift[24] yesterday—I [166] should perhaps have begun to cry, which would not have been convenable in a hostess. For I have been in a suffering, depressed condition lately, so your good, loving deed has come just at the right time—when I need the helpfulness that love brings me—and my heart turns to you with grateful blessing this Monday morning.

I have been looking at the little paintings with a treble delight, because they were done for me, because you chose for them subjects of my "making," and because they are done with a promising charm of execution (which Mr. Lewes feels as well as I). It gives me special gladness that you have this sort of work before you. Some skill or other with the hands is needful for the completeness of the life, and makes a bridge over times of doubt and despondency.

Perhaps it will please you to know that nineteen years ago, when Mr. Lewes and I were looking at a print of Goethe's statue by Ritzchl, which stands on a pedestal ornamented with bassi relievi of his characters, I said (little believing that my wish would ever be fulfilled), "How I should like to be surrounded with creatures of my own making!" And yesterday, when I was looking at your gift, that little incident recurred to me. Your love seemed to have made me a miniature pedestal.

I was comforted yesterday that you and J. had at least the pleasure of hearing Bice Trollope sing, to make some amends for the long, cold journey. Please do not any of you, forget that we shall only be three weeks more in this corner of the world, and that we want to see you as often as you care to come.

Best love to all, the mother being chief among the all.[167]

Journal, 1874.

May 19.—This month has been published a volume of my poems—"Legend of Jubal, and other Poems." On the 1st of June we go into the country to the cottage, Earlswood Common, for four months, and I hope there to get deep shafts sunk in my prose book. My health has been a wretched drag on me during this last half-year. I have lately written "a symposium."

Letter to Mrs. Cross, 14th June, 1874.

I have so much trust in your love for us that I feel sure you will like to know of our happiness in the secure peace of the country, and the good we already experience in soul and body from the sweet breezes over hill and common, the delicious silence, and the unbroken spaces of the day. Just now the chill east wind has brought a little check to our pleasure in our long afternoon drives; and I could wish that Canon Kingsley and his fellow-worshippers of that harsh divinity could have it reserved entirely for themselves as a tribal god.

We think the neighborhood so lovely that I must beg you to tell J. we are in danger of settling here unless he makes haste to find us a house in your "country-side"—a house with undeniable charms, on high ground, in a strictly rural neighborhood (water and gas laid on, nevertheless), to be vacant precisely this autumn!

My philosopher is writing away with double verve in a projecting window, where he can see a beautiful green slope crowned and studded with large trees. I, too, have an agreeable corner in another room. Our house has the essentials of comfort, and we have reason to be contented with it.

I confess that my chief motive for writing about ourselves is to earn some news of you, which will not be [168] denied me by one or other of the dear pairs of hands always ready to do us a kindness.

Our Sunday is really a Sabbath now—a day of thorough peace. But I shall get hungry for a sight of some of the Sunday visitors before the end of September.

I include all your family in a spiritual embrace, and am always yours lovingly.

Letter to John Blackwood, 16th June, 1874.

We are revelling in the peace of the country, and have no drawback to our delight except the cold winds, which have forced us to put on winter clothing for the last four or five days.

Our wide common is very breezy, and the wind makes mournful music round our walls. But I should think it is not possible to find a much healthier region than this round Reigate and Redhill; and it is prettier than half the places one crosses the Channel to see. We have been hunting about for a permanent country home in the neighborhood, but no house is so difficult to get as one which has at once seclusion and convenience of position, which is neither of the suburban-villa style nor of the grand hall and castle dimensions.

The restoration of the empire (in France), which is a threatening possibility, seems to me a degrading issue. In the restoration of the monarchy I should have found something to rejoice at, but the traditions of the empire, both first and second, seem to my sentiment bad. Some form of military despotism must be, as you say, the only solution where no one political party knows how to behave itself. The American pattern is certainly being accepted as to senatorial manners. I dare say you have been to Knebworth and talked over French matters with Lord Lytton. We are grieved to hear from him but a poor account of [169] sweet Lady Lytton's health and spirits. She is to me one of the most charming types of womanliness, and I long for her to have all a woman's best blessings.

The good news about the small remainder of "Jubal" is very welcome, and I will write at once to Mr. Simpson to send him my two or three corrections, and my wishes about the new edition. The price of the book will well bear a thicker and a handsomely tinted paper, especially now it has proved movable; and I felt so much the difference to the eye and touch of the copies on rich tinted paper, that I was much vexed with myself for having contributed to the shabby appearance of the current edition by suggesting the thin Keats volume as a model. People have become used to more luxurious editions; and I confess to the weakness of being affected by paper and type in something of the same subtile way I am affected by the odor of a room.

Many thanks for Lord Neaves's pleasant little book, which is a capital example of your happily planned publication.

I came down here half poisoned by the French theatre, but I am flourishing now, and am brewing my future big book with more or less (generally less) belief in the quality of the liquor which will be drawn off. The secured peacefulness and the pure air of the country make our time of double worth; and we mean to give no invitations to London friends desirous of change. We are selfishly bent on dual solitude.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 1st July, 1874.

I am so glad to know from your kind letter that you are interesting yourself, with Madame Belloc, in the poor workhouse girls. You see my only social work is to rejoice in the labors of others, while I live in luxurious remoteness from all turmoil. Of course you [170] have seen Mrs. Senior's report. I read it, and thought it very wise, very valuable in many ways, and since then she has sent me word how much she has been worried about it by (as I imagine) obstructive officials.

We are revelling in our country peacefulness, in spite of the chills and rain, driving about every day that the weather will allow, and finding in each drive new beauties of this loveliest part of a lovely country. We are looking out for a house in this neighborhood as a permanent retreat; not with the idea of giving up our London house, at least for some years, but simply of having a place to which we may come for about six months of the year, and perhaps finally shrink into altogether.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 1st July, 1874.

Only the day before your letter came to me I had been saying, "I wonder how our dear Mrs. William Smith is?" so that your impulse to write to me satisfied a need of mine. I cannot help rejoicing that you are in the midst of lovely scenery again, for I had had a presentiment that Cambridge was antipathetic to you; and, indeed, I could not have imagined that you would be in the right place there but for the promised helpfulness of your presence to a young friend.

You tell me much that is interesting. Your picture of Mr. and Mrs. Stirling, and what you say of the reasons why one may wish even for the anguish of being left for the sake of waiting on the beloved one to the end—all that goes to my heart of hearts. It is what I think of almost daily. For death seems to me now a close, real experience, like the approach of autumn or winter, and I am glad to find that advancing life brings this power of imagining the nearness of death I never had till of late years. I remember all you told me of your niece's expected marriage, and your joy in [171] the husband who has chosen her. It is wealth you have—that of several sweet nieces to whom being with you is a happiness. You can feel some sympathy in their cheerfulness, even though sorrow is always your only private good—can you not, dear friend?—and the time is short at the utmost. The blessed reunion, if it may come, must be patiently waited for; and such good as you can do others, by loving looks and words, must seem to you like a closer companionship with the gentleness and benignity which you justly worshipped while it was visibly present, and still more, perhaps, now it is veiled, and is a memory stronger than vision of outward things. We are revelling in the sweet peace of the country, and shall remain here till the end of September.

Mr. Lewes sends his affectionate remembrances with mine. I am scribbling while he holds my bed-candle, so pray forgive any incoherency.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 17th July, 1874.

I have two questions to ask of your benevolence. First, was there not some village near Stonehenge where you stayed the night, nearer to Stonehenge than Amesbury? Secondly, do you know anything specific about Holmwood Common as a place of residence? It is ravishingly beautiful; is it in its higher part thoroughly unobjectionable as a site for a dwelling?

It seems that they have been having the heat of Tophet in London, whereas we have never had more than agreeable sunniness, this common being almost always breezy. And the country around us must, I think, be the loveliest of its undulating, woody kind in all England.

I remember, when we were driving together last, something was said about my disposition to melancholy. I ought to have said then, but did not, that I am no [172] longer one of those whom Dante found in hell border because they had been sad under the blessed sunlight.[25] I am uniformly cheerful now—feeling the preciousness of these moments, in which I still possess love and thought.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 3d Aug. 1874.

It was sweet of you to write me that nice long letter. I was athirst for some news of you. Life, as you say, is a big thing. No wonder there comes a season when we cease to look round and say, "How shall I enjoy?" but, as in a country which has been visited by the sword, pestilence, and famine, think only how we shall help the wounded, and how find seed for the next harvest—how till the earth and make a little time of gladness for those who are being born without their own asking. I am so glad of what you say about the Latin. Go on conquering and to conquer a little kingdom for yourself there.

We are, as usual, getting more than our share of peace and other good, except in the matter of warmth and sunshine. Our common is a sort of ball-room for the winds, and on the warmest days we have had here we have found them at their music and dancing. They roar round the corners of our house in a wintry fashion, while the sun is shining on the brown grass.

Letter to John Blackwood, 8th Aug. 1874.

Thanks for sending me the good news. The sale of "Middlemarch" is wonderful "out of all whooping," and, considered as manifesting the impression made by the book, is more valuable than any amount of immediate distribution. I suppose there will be a new edition of the "Spanish Gypsy" wanted by Christmas; and I have a carefully corrected copy by me, containing [173] my final alterations, to which I desire to have the stereotyped plates adjusted.

As to confidence in the work to be done I am somewhat in the condition suggested to Armgart, "How will you bear the poise of eminence with dread of falling?" And the other day, having a bad headache, I did what I have sometimes done before at intervals of five or six years—looked into three or four novels to see what the world was reading. The effect was paralyzing, and certainly justifies me in that abstinence from novel-reading which, I fear, makes me seem supercilious or churlish to the many persons who send me their books, or ask me about their friends' books. To be delivered from all doubts as to one's justification in writing at this stage of the world, one should have either a plentiful faith in one's own exceptionalness, or a plentiful lack of money. Tennyson said to me, "Everybody writes so well now;" and if the lace is only machine-made, it still pushes out the hand-made, which has differences only for a fine, fastidious appreciation. To write indifferently after having written well—that is, from a true, individual store which makes a special contribution—is like an eminent clergyman spoiling his reputation by lapses, and neutralizing all the good he did before. However, this is superfluous stuff to write to you. It is only a sample of the way in which depression works upon me. I am not the less grateful for all the encouragement I get.

I saw handsome Dean Liddell at Oxford. He is really a grand figure. They accuse him of being obstructive to much-needed reforms. For my own part I am thankful to him for his share in "Liddell and Scott" and his capital little Roman History. À propos of books and St. Andrews, I have read aloud to Mr. [174] Lewes Professor Flint's volume, and we have both been much pleased with its conscientious presentation and thorough effort at fairness.

We have enjoyed the country, as we always do; but we have been, for our constitutions, a little unfortunate in the choice of a spot which is the windiest of the windy. That heat which we have read and heard of has hardly been at all felt by us; and we have both suffered a little from chills. You will perceive from my letter I am just now possessed by an evil spirit in the form of headache; but on the whole I am much the stronger for the peace and the delicious air, which I take in as a conscious addition to the good of living.

We have been near buying a little country hermitage on Holmwood Common—a grand spot, with a view hard to match in our flat land. But we have been frightened away by its windiness. I rather envy Major Lockhart and the rest of the golfian enthusiasts; to have a seductive idleness which is really a healthy activity is invaluable to people who have desk-work.

Letter to Mrs H. B. Stowe, 11th Nov. 1874.

I feel rather disgraced by the fact that I received your last kind letter nearly two months ago. But a brief note of mine, written immediately on hearing of you from Mrs. Fields, must have crossed yours and the Professor's kind letters to me; and I hope it proved to you that I love you in my heart.

We were in the country then, but soon afterwards we set out on a six-weeks' journey, and we are but just settled in our winter home.

Those unspeakable troubles in which I necessarily felt more for you than for any one else concerned, are, I trust, well at an end, and you are enjoying a time of peace. It was like your own sympathetic energy to be able, even while the storm was yet hanging in your [175] sky, to write to me about my husband's books. Will you not agree with me that there is one comprehensive Church whose fellowship consists in the desire to purify and ennoble human life, and where the best members of all narrower Churches may call themselves brother and sister in spite of differences? I am writing to your dear husband as well as to you, and in answer to his question about Goethe, I must say, for my part, that I think he had a strain of mysticism in his soul—of so much mysticism as I think inevitably belongs to a full, poetic nature—I mean the delighted bathing of the soul in emotions which overpass the outlines of definite thought. I should take the "Imitation" as a type (it is one which your husband also mentions), but perhaps I might differ from him in my attempt to interpret the unchangeable and universal meanings of that great book.

Mr. Lewes, however, who has a better right than I to a conclusion about Goethe, thinks that he entered into the experience of the mystic—as in the confessions of the Schöne Seele—simply by force of his sympathetic genius, and that his personal individual bent was towards the clear and plastic exclusively. Do not imagine that Mr. Lewes is guided in his exposition by theoretic antipathies. He is singularly tolerant of difference, and able to admire what is unlike himself.

He is busy now correcting the proofs of his second volume. I wonder whether you have headaches and are rickety as we are, or whether you have a glorious immunity from those ills of the flesh. Your husband's photograph looks worthy to represent one of those wondrous Greeks who wrote grand dramas at eighty or ninety.

I am decidedly among the correspondents who may [176] exercise their friends in the virtue of giving and hoping for nothing again. Otherwise I am unprofitable. Yet believe me, dear friend, I am always with lively memories of you, yours affectionately.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Nov. 1874.

We have spent this year in much happiness, and are sorry to part with it. From the beginning of June to the end of September we had a house in Surrey, and enjoyed delicious quiet with daily walks and drives in the lovely scenery round Reigate and Dorking. October we spent in a country visit to friends (Six-Mile Bottom) and in a journey to Paris, and through the Ardennes homeward, finishing off our travels by some excursions in our own country, which we are ready to say we will never quit again—it is so much better worth knowing than most places one travels abroad to see. We make ourselves amends for being in London by going to museums to see the wonderful works of men; and the other day I was taken over the Bank of England and to Woolwich Arsenal—getting object-lessons in my old age, you perceive. Mr. Lewes is half through the proof-correcting of his second volume; and it will be matter of rejoicing when the other half is done, for we both hate proof-correcting (do you?)—the writing always seems worse than it really is when one reads it in patches, looking out for mistakes.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Ponsonby (now Lady Ponsonby), 10th Dec. 1874.

My books have for their main bearing a conclusion the opposite of that in which your studies seem to have painfully imprisoned you—a conclusion without which I could not have cared to write any representation of human life—namely, that the fellowship between man and man which has been the principle of development, social and moral, is not dependent on conceptions of what is not man: and that the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual influence, is the ideal of a [177] goodness entirely human (i.e., an exaltation of the human).

Have you quite fairly represented yourself in saying that you have ceased to pity your suffering fellow-men, because you can no longer think of them as individualities of immortal duration, in some other state of existence than this of which you know the pains and the pleasures?—that you feel less for them now you regard them as more miserable? And, on a closer examination of your feelings, should you find that you had lost all sense of quality in actions, all possibility of admiration that yearns to imitate, all keen sense of what is cruel and injurious, all belief that your conduct (and therefore the conduct of others) can have any difference of effect on the well-being of those immediately about you (and therefore on those afar off), whether you carelessly follow your selfish moods, or encourage that vision of others' needs which is the source of justice, tenderness, sympathy in the fullest sense—I cannot believe that your strong intellect will continue to see, in the conditions of man's appearance on this planet, a destructive relation to your sympathy. This seems to me equivalent to saying that you care no longer for color, now you know the laws of the spectrum.

As to the necessary combinations through which life is manifested, and which seem to present themselves to you as a hideous fatalism, which ought logically to petrify your volition, have they, in fact, any such influence on your ordinary course of action in the primary affairs of your existence as a human, social, domestic creature? And if they don't hinder you from taking measures for a bath, without which you know that you cannot secure the delicate cleanliness which is your [178] second nature, why should they hinder you from a line of resolve in a higher strain of duty to your ideal, both for yourself and others? But the consideration of molecular physics is not the direct ground of human love and moral action any more than it is the direct means of composing a noble picture or of enjoying great music. One might as well hope to dissect one's own body and be merry in doing it, as take molecular physics (in which you must banish from your field of view what is specifically human) to be your dominant guide, your determiner of motives, in what is solely human. That every study has its bearing on every other is true; but pain and relief, love and sorrow, have their peculiar history, which make an experience and knowledge over and above the swing of atoms.

The teaching you quote as George Sand's would, I think, deserve to be called nonsensical if it did not deserve to be called wicked. What sort of "culture of the intellect" is that which, instead of widening the mind to a fuller and fuller response to all the elements of our existence, isolates it in a moral stupidity?—which flatters egoism with the possibility that a complex and refined human society can continue, wherein relations have no sacredness beyond the inclination of changing moods?—or figures to itself an æsthetic human life that one may compare to that of the fabled grasshoppers who were once men, but having heard the song of the Muses could do nothing but sing, and starved themselves so till they died and had a fit resurrection as grasshoppers? "And this," says Socrates, "was the return the Muses made them."

With regard to the pains and limitations of one's personal lot, I suppose there is not a single man or woman who has not more or less need of that stoical [179] resignation which is often a hidden heroism, or who, in considering his or her past history, is not aware that it has been cruelly affected by the ignorant or selfish action of some fellow-being in a more or less close relation of life. And to my mind there can be no stronger motive than this perception, to an energetic effort that the lives nearest to us shall not suffer in a like manner from us.

The progress of the world—which you say can only come at the right time—can certainly never come at all save by the modified action of the individual beings who compose the world; and that we can say to ourselves with effect, "There is an order of considerations which I will keep myself continually in mind of, so that they may continually be the prompters of certain feelings and actions," seems to me as undeniable as that we can resolve to study the Semitic languages and apply to an Oriental scholar to give us daily lessons. What would your keen wit say to a young man who alleged the physical basis of nervous action as a reason why he could not possibly take that course?

As to duration and the way in which it affects your view of the human history, what is really the difference to your imagination between infinitude and billions when you have to consider the value of human experience? Will you say that, since your life has a term of threescore years and ten, it was really a matter of indifference whether you were a cripple with a wretched skin disease, or an active creature with a mind at large for the enjoyment of knowledge, and with a nature which has attracted others to you?

Difficulties of thought—acceptance of what is, without full comprehension—belong to every system of thinking. The question is to find the least incomplete. [180]

When I wrote the first page of this letter I thought I was going to say that I had not courage to enter on the momentous points you had touched on in the hasty, brief form of a letter. But I have been led on sentence after sentence—not, I fear, with any inspiration beyond that of my anxiety. You will at least pardon any ill-advised things I may have written on the prompting of the moment.

Journal, 1875.

Jan. 13.—Here is a great gap since I last made a record. But the time has been filled full of happiness. A second edition of "Jubal" was published in August; and the fourth edition of the "Spanish Gypsy" is all sold. This morning I received a copy of the fifth edition. The amount of copies sold of "Middlemarch" up to 31st December is between nineteen and twenty thousand.

Yesterday I also received the good news that the engagement between Emily Cross and Mr. Otter is settled.

The last year has been crowded with proofs of affection for me and of value for what work I have been able to do. This makes the best motive or encouragement to do more; but, as usual, I am suffering much from doubt as to the worth of what I am doing, and fear lest I may not be able to complete it so as to make it a contribution to literature and not a mere addition to the heap of books. I am now just beginning the part about "Deronda," at page 234.

Letter to Francis Otter, 13th (?) Jan. 1875.

Your letter was a deeply felt pleasure to me last night; and I have one from Emily this morning, which makes my joy in the prospect of your union as thorough as it could well be. I could not wish either her words or yours to be in the least different. Long ago, when I had no notion that the event was probable, my too hasty imagination had prefigured it and longed for [181] it. To say this is to say something of the high regard with which all I have known of you has impressed me—for I hold our sweet Emily worthy of one who may be reckoned among the best. The possibility of a constantly growing blessedness in marriage is to me the very basis of good in our mortal life; and the believing hope that you and she will experience that blessedness seems to enrich me for the coming years. I shall count it among my strengthening thoughts that you both think of me with affection, and care for my sympathy. Mr. Lewes shares in all the feelings I express, and we are rejoicing together.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 15th Jan. 1875.

Please never wonder at my silence, or believe that I bear you in any the less lively remembrance because I do not write to you.

Writing notes is the crux of my life. It often interferes with my morning hours (before 1 o'clock), which is the only time I have for quiet work. For certain letters are unavoidable demands, and though my kind husband writes them for me whenever he can, they are not all to be done by proxy.

That glorious bit of work of yours about the Home for Girls[26] is delightful to hear of. Hardly anything is more wanted, I imagine, than homes for girls in various employments—or, rather, for unmarried women of all ages.

I heard also the other day that your name was among those of the ladies interested in the beginning of a union among the bookbinding women, which one would like to succeed and spread.

I hope, from your ability to work so well, that you are in perfect health yourself. Our friend Barbara, [182] too, looks literally the pink of well-being, and cheers one's soul by her interest in all worthy things.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Ponsonby (now Lady Ponsonby), 30th Jan. 1875.

I should urge you to consider your early religious experience as a portion of valid knowledge, and to cherish its emotional results in relation to objects and ideas which are either substitutes or metamorphoses of the earlier. And I think we must not take every great physicist—or other "ist"—for an apostle, but be ready to suspect him of some crudity concerning relations that lie outside his special studies, if his exposition strands us on results that seem to stultify the most ardent, massive experience of mankind, and hem up the best part of our feelings in stagnation.

Letter to John Blackwood, 7th Feb. 1875.

Last night I finished reading aloud to Mr. Lewes the "Inkerman" volume, and we both thank you heartily for the valuable present. It is an admirable piece of writing; such pure, lucid English is what one rarely gets to read. The masterly marshalling of the material is certainly in contrast with the movements described. To my non-military mind the Inkerman affair seems nothing but a brave blundering into victory. Great traits of valor—Homeric movements—but also a powerful lack of brains in the form of generalship. I cannot see that the ordering up of the two 18-pounder guns was a vast mental effort, unless the weight of the guns is to be counted in the order as well as in the execution. But the grand fact of the thousands beaten by the hundreds remains under all interpretation. Why the Russians, in their multitudinous mass, should have chosen to retreat into Sebastopol, moving at their leisure, and carrying off all their artillery, seems a mystery in spite of General Dannenberg's memorable answer to Mentschikoff.

There are some splendid movements in the story—the [183] tradition of the "Minden Yell," the "Men, remember Albuera," and the officer of the 77th advancing with, "Then I will go myself," with what followed, are favorite bits of mine. My mind is in the anomalous condition of hating war and loving its discipline, which has been an incalculable contribution to the sentiment of duty.

I have not troubled myself to read any reviews of the book. My eye caught one in which the author's style was accused of affectation. But I have long learned to apply to reviewers an aphorism which tickled me in my childhood—"There must be some such to be some of all sorts." Pray tell Mr. Simpson that I was much pleased with the new dress of the "Spanish Gypsy."

The first part of "Giannetto" raised my interest, but I was disappointed in the unravelling of the plot. It seems to me neither really nor ideally satisfactory. But it is a long while since I read a story newer than "Rasselas," which I re-read two years ago, with a desire to renew my childish delight in it, when it was one of my best-loved companions. So I am a bad judge of comparative merits among popular writers. I am obliged to fast from fiction, and fasting is known sometimes to weaken the stomach. I ought to except Miss Thackeray's stories—which I cannot resist when they come near me—and bits of Mr. Trollope, for affection's sake. You would not wonder at my fasting, if you knew how deplorably uncalled-for and "everything-that-it-should-not-be" my own fiction seems to me in times of inward and outward fog—like this morning, when the light is dim on my paper.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Ponsonby (now Lady Ponsonby), 11th Feb. 1875.

Do send me the papers you have written—I mean as a help and instruction to me. I need very much [184] to know how ideas lie in other minds than my own, that I may not miss their difficulties while I am urging only what satisfies myself. I shall be deeply interested in knowing exactly what you wrote at that particular stage. Please remember that I don't consider myself a teacher, but a companion in the struggle of thought. What can consulting physicians do without pathological knowledge? and the more they have of it, the less absolute—the more tentative—are their procedures.

You will see by the Fortnightly, which you have not read, that Mr. Spencer is very anxious to vindicate himself from neglect of the logical necessity that the evolution of the abstraction "society" is dependent on the modified action of the units; indeed, he is very sensitive on the point of being supposed to teach an enervating fatalism.

Consider what the human mind en masse would have been if there had been no such combination of elements in it as has produced poets. All the philosophers and savants would not have sufficed to supply that deficiency. And how can the life of nations be understood without the inward light of poetry—that is, of emotion blending with thought?

But the beginning and object of my letter must be the end—please send me your papers.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 10th May, 1875.

We cannot believe that there is reason to fear any painful observations on the publication of the memoir in one volume with "Gravenhurst" and the essays. The memoir is written with exquisite judgment and feeling; and without estimating too highly the taste and carefulness of journalists in their ordinary treatment of books, I think that we may count on their not being impressed otherwise than respectfully and sympathetically [185] with the character of your dear husband's work, and with the sketch of his pure, elevated life. I would also urge you to rely on the fact that Mr. Blackwood thinks the publication desirable, as a guarantee that it will not prove injudicious in relation to the outer world—I mean, the world beyond the circle of your husband's especial friends and admirers. I am grieved to hear of your poor eyes having been condemned to an inaction which, I fear, may have sadly increased the vividness of that inward seeing, already painfully strong in you. There has been, I trust, always some sympathetic young companionship to help you—some sweet voice to read aloud to you, or to talk of those better things in human lots which enable us to look at the good of life a little apart from our own particular sorrow.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 11th May, 1875.

The doctors have decided that there is nothing very grave the matter with me: and I am now so much better that we even think it possible I may go to see Salvini, in the Gladiator, to-morrow evening. This is to let you know that there is no reason against your coming, with or without Margaret, at the usual time on Friday.

Your words of affection in the note you sent me are very dear to my remembrance. I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same mind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 14th May, 1875.

You are right—there is no time, but only the sense of not having time; especially when, instead of filling the days with useful exertion, as you do, one wastes them in being ill, as I have been doing of late. However, [186] I am better now, and will not grumble. Thanks for all the dear words in your letter. Be sure I treasure the memory of your faithful friendship, which goes back—you know how far.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 1st June, 1875.

If you could, some day this week or the beginning of next, allow me half an hour's quiet tête-à-tête, I should be very much obliged by such a kindness.

The trivial questions I want to put could hardly be shapen in a letter so as to govern an answer that would satisfy my need. And I trust that the interview will hardly be more troublesome to you than writing.

I hope, when you learn the pettiness of my difficulties, you will not be indignant, like a great doctor called in to the favorite cat.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 9th Aug. 1875, from Rickmansworth.

We admire our bit of Hertfordshire greatly; but I should be glad of more breezy common land and far-reaching outlooks. For fertility, wealth of grand trees, parks, mansions, and charming bits of stream and canal, our neighborhood can hardly be excelled. And our house is a good old red-brick Georgian place, with a nice bit of garden and meadow and river at the back. Perhaps we are too much in the valley, and have too large a share of mist, which often lies white on our meadows in the early evening. But who has not had too much moisture in this calamitously wet, cold summer?

Mr. Lewes is very busy, but not in zoologizing. We reserve that for October, when we mean to go to the coast for a few weeks. It is a long while since I walked on broad sands and watched the receding tide; and I look forward agreeably to a renewal of that old pleasure.

I am not particularly flourishing in this pretty region, [187] probably owing to the low barometer. The air has been continually muggy, and has lain on one's head like a thick turban.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 14th Aug. 1875.

What a comfort that you are at home again and well![27] The sense of your nearness had been so long missing to us that we had begun to take up with life as inevitably a little less cheerful than we remembered it to have been formerly, without thinking of restoration.

My box is quite dear to me, and shall be used for stamps, as you recommend, unless I find another use that will lead me to open it and think of you the oftener. It is very precious to me that you bore me in your mind, and took that trouble to give me pleasure—in which you have succeeded.

Our house here is rather a fine old brick Georgian place, with a lovely bit of landscape; but I think we have suffered the more from the rainy, close weather, because we are in a valley, and can see the mists lie in a thick, white stratum on our meadows. Mr. Lewes has been, on the whole, flourishing and enjoying—writing away with vigor, and making a discovery or theory at the rate of one per diem.

Of me you must expect no good. I have been in a piteous state of debility in body and depression in mind. My book seems to me so unlikely ever to be finished in a way that will make it worth giving to the world, that it is a kind of glass in which I behold my infirmities.

That expedition on the Thames would be a great delight, if it were possible to us. But our arrangements forbid it. Our loving thanks to Mr. Druce, as well as to you, for reviving the thought. We are to [188] remain here till the 23d of September; then to fly through town, or at least only perch there for a night or so, and then go down to the coast, while the servants clean our house. We expect that Bournemouth will be our destination.

Let us have news of you all again soon. Let us comfort each other while it is day, for the night cometh.

I hope this change of weather, in which we are glorying both for the country's sake and our own, will not make Weybridge too warm for Mrs. Cross.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Ponsonby, 19th Aug. 1875.

I don't mind how many letters I receive from one who interests me as much as you do. The receptive part of correspondence I can carry on with much alacrity. It is writing answers that I groan over. Please take it as a proof of special feeling that I declined answering your kind inquiries by proxy.

This corner of Hertfordshire is as pretty as it can be of the kind. There are really rural bits at every turn. But for my particular taste I prefer such a region as that round Haslemere—with wide, furzy commons and a grander horizon. Also I prefer a country where I don't make bad blood by having to see one public house to every six dwellings—which is literally the case in many spots around us. My gall rises at the rich brewers in Parliament and out of it, who plant these poison shops for the sake of their million-making trade, while probably their families are figuring somewhere as refined philanthropists or devout Evangelicals and Ritualists.

You perceive from this that I am dyspeptic and disposed to melancholy views. In fact, I have not been flourishing, but I am getting a little better; grateful thanks that you will care to know it. On the whole the sins of brewers, with their drugged ale and devil's [189] traps, depress me less than my own inefficiency. But every fresh morning is an opportunity that one can look forward to for exerting one's will. I shall not be satisfied with your philosophy till you have conciliated necessitarianism—I hate the ugly word—with the practice of willing strongly, willing to will strongly, and so on, that being what you certainly can do and have done about a great many things in life, whence it is clear that there is nothing in truth to hinder you from it—except, you will say, the absence of a motive. But that absence I don't believe in in your case—only in the case of empty, barren souls.

Are you not making a transient confusion of intuitions with innate ideas? The most thorough experientialists admit intuition—i.e., direct impressions of sensibility underlying all proof, as necessary starting-points for thought.

Journal, 1875.

Oct. 10.—On the 15th June, we went to a house we had taken at Rickmansworth. Here, in the end of July, we received the news that our dear Bertie had died on June 29th. Our stay at Rickmansworth, though otherwise peaceful, was not marked by any great improvement in health from the change to country instead of town—rather the contrary. We left on 23d September, and then set off on a journey into Wales, which was altogether unfortunate on account of the excessive rain.

Letter to John Blackwood, 10th Oct. 1875.

I behaved rather shabbily in not thanking you otherwise than by proxy for the kind letter you sent me to Rickmansworth, but I had a bad time down there, and did less of everything than I desired. Last night we returned from our trip—a very lively word for a journey made in the worst weather; and since I am, on the whole, the better for a succession of small discomforts [190] in hotels, and struggling walks taken under an umbrella, I have no excuse for not writing a line to my neglected correspondents.

You will laugh at our nervous caution in depositing our MSS. at the Union Bank before we set out. We could have borne to hear that our house had been burned down, provided no lives were lost, and our unprinted matter, our œuvres inédites, were safe out of it.

About my unprinted matter, Mr. Lewes thinks it will not be well to publish the first part till February. The four first monthly parts are ready for travelling now. It will be well to begin the printing in good time, so that I may not be hurried with the proofs; and I must beg Mr. Simpson to judge for me in that matter with kind carefulness.

I can't say that I am at all satisfied with the book, or that I have a comfortable sense of doing in it what I want to do; but Mr. Lewes is satisfied with it, and insists that since he is as anxious as possible for it to be fine, I ought to accept his impressions as trustworthy. So I resign myself.

I read aloud the "Abode of Snow" at Rickmansworth, to our mutual delight; and we are both very much obliged to you for the handsome present. But what an amazing creature is this Andrew Wilson to have kept pluck for such travelling while his body was miserably ailing! One would have said that he had more than the average spirit of hardy men to have persevered even in good health after a little taste of the difficulties he describes.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 20th Oct. 1875.

The arrangements as to the publication of my next book are already determined on. Ever since "Adam Bede" appeared I have been continually having proposals from the proprietors or editors of periodicals, [191] but I have always declined them, except in the case of "Romola," which appeared in the Cornhill, and was allowed to take up a varying and unusual number of pages. I have the strongest objection to cutting up my work into little bits; and there is no motive to it on my part, since I have a large enough public already. But, even apart from that objection, it would not now be worth the while of any magazine or journal to give me a sum such as my books yield in separate publication. I had £7000 for "Romola," but the mode in which "Middlemarch" was issued brings in a still larger sum. I ought to say, however, that the question is not entirely one of money with me: if I could gain more by splitting my writing into small parts, I would not do it, because the effect would be injurious as a matter of art. So much detail I trouble you with to save misapprehension.

Letter to John Blackwood, 18th Nov. 1875.

Your enjoyment of the proofs cheers me greatly; and pray thank Mrs. Blackwood for her valuable hints on equine matters. I have not only the satisfaction of using those hints, I allow myself the inference that where there is no criticism on like points I have made no mistake.

I should be much obliged to Mr. Simpson—whom I am glad that Gwendolen has captivated—if he would rate the printers a little about their want of spacing. I am anxious that my poor heroes and heroines should have all the advantage that paper and print can give them.

It will perhaps be a little comfort to you to know that poor Gwen is spiritually saved, but "so as by fire." Don't you see the process already beginning? I have no doubt you do, for you are a wide-awake reader.[192]

But what a climate to expect good writing in! Skating in the morning and splashy roads in the afternoon is just typical of the alternation from frigid to flaccid in the author's bodily system, likely to give a corresponding variety to the style.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Nov. 1875.

I got my head from under the pressure of other matters, like a frog from under the water, to send you my November greeting. My silence through the rest of the months makes you esteem me the more, I hope, seeing that you yourself hate letter-writing—a remarkable exception to the rule that people like doing what they can do well, if one can call that a rule of which the reverse seems more frequent—namely, that they like doing what they do ill.

We stayed till nearly the end of September at the house we had taken in Hertfordshire. After that we went into Wales for a fortnight, and were under umbrellas nearly the whole time.

I wonder if you all remember an old governess of mine who used to visit me at Foleshill—a Miss Lewis? I have found her out. She is living at Leamington, very poor as well as old, but cheerful, and so delighted to be remembered with gratitude. How very old we are all getting! But I hope you don't mind it any more than I do. One sees so many contemporaries that one is well in the fashion. The approach of parting is the bitterness of age.

Letter to John Blackwood, 15th Dec. 1875.

Your letter is an agreeable tonic, very much needed, for that wretched hinderance of a cold last week has trailed after it a series of headaches worse than itself. An additional impression, like Mr. Langford's, of the two volumes is really valuable, as a sign that I have not so far failed in relation to a variety of readers. But you know that in one sense I count nothing done [193] as long as anything remains to do; and it always seems to me that the worst difficulty is still to come. In the sanest, soberest judgment, however, I think the third volume (which I have not yet finished) would be regarded as the difficult bridge. I will not send you any more MS. until I can send the whole of vol. iii.

We think that Mr. Simpson has conducted our Australian business admirably. Remembering that but for his judgment and consequent activity we might have got no publication at all in that quarter, we may well be content with £200.

Mr. Lewes has not got the Life of Heine, and will be much pleased and obliged by your gift.

Major Lockhart's lively letter gives one a longing for the fresh, breezy life and fine scenery it conjures up. You must let me know when there is a book of his, because when I have done my own I shall like to read something else by him. I got much pleasure out of the two books I did read. But when I am writing, or only thinking of writing, fiction of my own, I cannot risk the reading of other English fiction. I was obliged to tell Anthony Trollope so when he sent me the first part of his "Prime Minister," though this must seem sadly ungracious to those who don't share my susceptibilities.

Apparently there are wild reports about the subject-matter of "Deronda"—among the rest, that it represents French life! But that is hardly more ridiculous than the supposition that after refusing to go to America, I should undertake to describe society there! It is wonderful how "Middlemarch" keeps afloat in people's minds. Somebody told me that Mr. Henry Sidgwick said it was a bold thing to write another book after "Middlemarch," and we must prepare ourselves [194] for the incalculableness of the public reception in the first instance. I think I have heard you say that the chief result of your ample experience has been to convince you of that incalculableness.

What a blow for Miss Thackeray—the death of that sister to whom she was so closely bound in affection.

Journal, 1875.

Dec. 25.—After our return from Wales in October I grew better and wrote with some success. For the last three weeks, however, I have been suffering from a cold and its effects so as to be unable to make any progress. Meanwhile the two first volumes of "Daniel Deronda" are in print, and the first book is to be published on February 1st. I have thought very poorly of it myself throughout, but George and the Blackwoods are full of satisfaction in it. Each part as I see it before me im werden seems less likely to be anything else than a failure; but I see on looking back this morning—Christmas Day—that I really was in worse health and suffered equal depression about "Romola;" and, so far as I have recorded, the same thing seems to be true of "Middlemarch."

I have finished the fifth book, but am not far on in the sixth, as I hoped to have been; the oppression under which I have been laboring having positively suspended my power of writing anything that I could feel satisfaction in.




Reception of "Middlemarch"—Letter to John Blackwood—Mr. Anthony Trollope—Dutch translation of George Eliot's novels—Letter to Mrs. Cross—Evening drives at Weybridge—Letter to John Blackwood—German reprint of "Spanish Gypsy"—"The Lifted Veil"—"Kenelm Chillingly"—Letter to Mrs. William Smith on her Memoir of her husband—Pleasure in young life—Letter to John Blackwood—Want of a Conservative leader—Letter to Mr. Burne-Jones—The function of art—Purpose in art—"Iphigenia in Aulis"—Letter to Mrs. Congreve—Welcoming her home—Letter to Mrs. William Smith on women at Cambridge—Visit to Mr. Frederic Myers at Cambridge—Meets Mr. Henry Sidgwick, Mr. Jebb, Mr. Edmund Gurney, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Lyttelton, and Mrs. and Miss Huth—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Death of Miss Rebecca Franklin—Visit to the Master of Balliol—Meets Mr. and Mrs. Charles Roundell—Professor Green—Max Müller—Thomson, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge—Nine-weeks' trip to the Continent—Letter to Mrs. Congreve from Homburg—Fontainebleau, Plombières, and Luxeuil—Two months' stay at Bickley—Letter to Mrs. Cross on journey abroad and Blackbrook—Letter to John Blackwood—New edition of "Middlemarch"—A real Lowick in a Midland county—Cheap editions—Letter to Mrs. Cross on the pleasures of the country and on Mr. Henry Sidgwick—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—House in the country—Letter to J. W. Cross on conformity—Letter to John Blackwood—Interruptions of town life—Simmering towards another book—Berlin reading "Middlemarch"—Ashantee war—Letter to Madame Bodichon—The George Howards—John Stuart Mill's Autobiography—Letter to Mrs. Cross on Christmas invitation—Dr. Andrew Clark—Letter to Mrs. Bray on stupidity of readers—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Retrospect of 1873—Sales of "Middlemarch" and "Spanish Gypsy"—Letter to Mrs. William Smith—"Plain living and high thinking"—Letter to John Blackwood—Conservative reaction—Cheaper edition of novels—Lord Lytton's "Fables"—Dickens's Life and biography in general—Letter to John Blackwood—Volume of poems—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Motives for children—Letter to Miss Hennell—Francis Newman—George Dawson—"The Legend of Jubal and other Poems" published—"Symposium" written—Letter to Miss Mary Cross thanking her for a vase—Letter to Mrs. Cross—Delight in country—Letter to John Blackwood—Threatened restoration of the empire in France—"Brewing" "Deronda"—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor on Mrs. Nassau Senior's report—Letter to Mrs. William Smith on consolations in loss—Letter to Madame Bodichon—No disposition to melancholy—Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones—The serious view of life—Letter to John Blackwood—Justifications for writing—Dean Liddell—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—Goethe's mysticism—Letter to Miss Hennell—Visit to Six-Mile Bottom—Paris and the Ardennes—Bank of England and Woolwich Arsenal—Letter to Mrs. Ponsonby—The idea of God an exaltation of human goodness—Vision of others' needs—Ground of moral action—Need of altruism—The power of the will—Difficulties of thought—Sales of books—Retrospect of 1874—Letter to Francis Otter on his engagement—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Note-writing—Home for girls—Letter to Mrs. Ponsonby—Value of early religious experience—Limitations of scientists—Letter to John Blackwood—Kinglake's "Crimea"—Discipline of war—"Rasselas"—Miss Thackeray—Anthony Trollope—Letter to Mrs. Ponsonby—Desire to know the difficulties of others—Companion in the struggle of thought—Mr. Spencer's teaching—The value of poets—Emotion blending with thought—Letter to Mrs. William Smith—Her memoir—Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones—The world of light and speech—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Rickmansworth—Letter to F. Harrison asking for consultation—Letter to J. W. Cross—"The Elms"—Depression—Letter to Mrs. Ponsonby—The Brewing interest—Conciliation of necessitarianism with will—Innate ideas—Death of Herbert Lewes—Trip to Wales—Letter to John Blackwood—Not satisfied with "Deronda"—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Mode of publication of books—Letter to John Blackwood—Gwendolen—Letter to Miss Hennell—Miss Lewis—Letter to John Blackwood—Impressions of "Deronda"—Major Lockhart—Depression about "Deronda."




Letter to John Blackwood, 17th March, 1876.

We have just come in from Weybridge, but are going to take refuge there again on Monday for a few days more of fresh air and long, breezy afternoon walks. Many thanks for your thoughtfulness in sending me the cheering account of sales.

Mr. Lewes has not heard any complaints of not understanding Gwendolen, but a strong partisanship for and against her. My correspondence about the misquotation of Tennyson has quieted itself since the fifth letter. But one gentleman has written me a very pretty note, taxing me with having wanted insight into the technicalities of Newmarket, when I made Lush say, "I will take odds." He judges that I should have written, "I will lay odds." On the other hand, another expert contends that the case is one in which Lush would be more likely to say, "I will take odds." What do you think? I told my correspondent that I had a dread of being righteously pelted with mistakes that would make a cairn above me—a monument and a warning to people who write novels without being omniscient and infallible.

Mr. Lewes is agitating himself over a fifth reading of revise, Book VI., and says he finds it more interesting than on any former reading. It is agreeable to have a home criticism of this kind! But I am deep in the fourth volume, and cannot any longer care about what is past and done for—the passion of the moment is as much as I can live in. [198]

We had beautiful skies with our cold, and only now and then a snow shower. It is grievous to read of the suffering elsewhere from floods.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 30th March, 1876.

I am well pleased that "Deronda" touches you. I wanted you to prefer the chapter about Mirah's finding, and I hope you will also like her history in Part III., which has just been published.

We want very much to get away, but I fear we shall hardly be able to start till the end of May. At present we think of the Maritime Alps as a destination for the warm summer—if we have such a season this year; but we shall wander a little on our way thither, and not feel bound to accomplish anything in particular. Meanwhile we are hearing some nice music occasionally, and we are going to see Tennyson's play, which is to be given on the 15th. The occasion will be very interesting, and I should be very sorry to miss it.

We have been getting a little refreshment from two flights between Sundays to Weybridge. But we have had the good a little drained from us by going out to dinner two days in succession. At Sir James Paget's I was much interested to find that a gentle-looking, clear-eyed, neatly-made man was Sir Garnet Wolseley; and I had some talk with him, which quite confirmed the impression of him as one of those men who have a power of command by dint of their sweet temper, calm demeanor, and unswerving resolution. The next subject that has filled our chat lately has been the Blue Book on Vivisection, which you would like to look into. There is a great deal of matter for reflection in the evidence on the subject, and some good points have been lately put in print, and conversation that I should like to tell you of if I had time. Professor [199] Clifford told us the other Sunday that Huxley complained of his sufferings from "the profligate lying of virtuous women."

Journal, 1876.

April 12.—On February 1st began the publication of "Deronda," and the interest of the public, strong from the first, appears to have increased with Book III. The day before yesterday I sent off Book VII. The success of the work at present is greater than that of "Middlemarch" up to the corresponding point of publication. What will be the feeling of the public as the story advances I am entirely doubtful. The Jewish element seems to me likely to satisfy nobody. I am in rather better health—having, perhaps, profited by some eight days' change at Weybridge.

Letter to John Blackwood, 18th April, 1876.

Your sympathetic letter is a welcome support to me in the rather depressed condition which has come upon me from the effect, I imagine, of a chill taken in the sudden change from mildness to renewed winter. You can understand how trying it is to have a week of incompetence at the present stage of affairs. I am rather concerned to see that the part is nearly a sheet smaller than any of the other parts. But Books V. and VI. are proportionately thick. It seemed inadmissible to add anything after the scene with Gwendolen; and to stick anything in not necessary to development between the foregoing chapters is a form of "matter in the wrong place" particularly repulsive to my authorship's sensibility.

People tell us that the book is enormously discussed, and I must share with you rather a neat coincidence which pleased us last week. Perhaps you saw what Mr. Lewes told me of—namely, that [a critic] opined that the scenes between Lush and Grandcourt were not vraisemblable—were of the imperious feminine, not [200] the masculine, character. Just afterwards Mr. Lewes was chatting with a friend who, without having read the [criticism] or having the subject in the least led up to by Mr. Lewes, said that he had been at Lady Waldegraves', where the subject of discussion had been "Deronda;" and Bernal Osborne, delivering himself on the book, said that the very best parts were the scenes between Grandcourt and Lush. Don't you think that Bernal Osborne has seen more of the Grandcourt and Lush life than that critic has seen? But several men of experience have put their fingers on those scenes as having surprising verisimilitude; and I naturally was peculiarly anxious about such testimony, where my construction was founded on a less direct knowledge.

We are rather vexed, now it is too late, that I did not carry out a sort of incipient intention to expunge a motto from Walt Whitman which I inserted in Book IV. Of course the whole is irrevocable by this time; but I should have otherwise thought it worth while to have a new page, not because the motto itself is objectionable to me—it was one of the finer things which had clung to me from among his writings—but because, since I quote so few poets, my selection of a motto from Walt Whitman might be taken as a sign of a special admiration, which I am very far from feeling. How imperfectly one's mind acts in proof-reading! Mr. Lewes had taken up Book IV. yesterday to re-read it for his pleasure merely; and though he had read it several times before, he never till yesterday made a remark against taking a motto from Walt Whitman. I, again, had continually had an appetency towards removing the motto, and had never carried it out—perhaps from that sort of flaccidity which comes [201] over me about what has been done, when I am occupied with what is being done.

People in their eagerness about my characters are quite angry, it appears, when their own expectations are not fulfilled—angry, for example, that Gwendolen accepts Grandcourt, etc., etc.

One reader is sure that Mirah is going to die very soon, and, I suppose, will be disgusted at her remaining alive. Such are the reproaches to which I make myself liable. However, that you seem to share Mr. Lewes's strong feeling of Book VII. being no falling off in intensity makes me brave. Only endings are inevitably the least satisfactory part of any work in which there is any merit of development.

I forgot to say that the "tephillin" are the small leather bands or phylacteries, inscribed with supremely sacred words, which the Jew binds on his arms and head during prayer.

Any periphrasis which would be generally intelligible would be undramatic; and I don't much like explanatory foot-notes in a poem or story. But I must consider what I can do to remedy the unintelligibility.

The printers have sadly spoiled the beautiful Greek name Kalonymos, which was the name of a celebrated family of scholarly Jews, transplanted from Italy into Germany in mediæval times. But my writing was in fault.

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 6th May, 1876.

Your letter was one of the best cordials I could have. Is there anything that cheers and strengthens more than the sense of another's worth and tenderness? And it was that sense that your letter stirred in me, not only by the words of fellowship and encouragement you give directly to me, but by all you tell me of your own feeling under your late painful [202] experience. I had felt it long since I had heard of your and the Professor's well being; but I need not say one word to you of the reasons why I am not active towards my distant friends except in thought. I do think of them, and have a tenacious memory of every little sign they have given me. Please offer my reverential love to the Professor, and tell him I am ruthlessly proud that I kept him out of his bed. I hope that both you and he will continue to be interested in my spiritual children. My cares for them are nearly at an end, and in a few weeks we expect to set out on a Continental journey, as the sort of relaxation which carries one most thoroughly away from studies and social claims. You rightly divine that I am a little overdone, but my fatigue is due not to any excess of work so much as to the vicissitudes of our long winter, which have affected me severely as they have done all delicate people. It is true that some nervous wear, such as you know well, from the excitement of writing, may have made me more susceptible to knife-like winds and sudden chills.

Though you tenderly forbade me to write in answer to your letter, I like to do it in these minutes when I happen to be free, lest hinderances should come in the indefinite future. I am the happier for thinking that you will have had this little bit of a letter to assure you that the sweet rain of your affection did not fall on a sandy place.

I make a delightful picture of your life in your orange-grove—taken care of by dear daughters. Climate enters into my life with an influence the reverse of what I like to think of in yours. Sunlight and sweet air make a new creature of me. But we cannot bear now to exile ourselves from our own country, [203] which holds the roots of our moral and social life. One fears to become selfish and emotionally withered by living abroad, and giving up the numerous connections with fellow countrymen and women whom one can further a little towards both public and private good.

I wonder whether you ever suffered much from false writing (about your biography and motives) in the newspapers. I dare say that pro-slavery prints did not spare you. But I should be glad to think that there was less impudent romancing about you as a citoyenne of the States than there appears to be about me as a stranger. But it is difficult for us English, who have not spent any time in the United States, to know the rank that is given to the various newspapers; and we may make the mistake of giving emphasis to some American journalism which is with you as unknown to respectable minds as any low-class newspaper with us.

When we come back from our journeying, I shall be interesting myself in the MS. and proofs of my husband's third volume of his Problems, which will then go to press, and shall plunge myself into the mysteries of our nervous tissue as the Professor has been doing into the mysteries of the Middle Ages. I have a cousinship with him in that taste—but how to find space in one's life for all the subjects that solicit one? My studies have lately kept me away from the track of my husband's researches, and I feel behindhand in my wifely sympathies. You know the pleasure of such interchange—husband and wife each keeping to their own work, but loving to have cognizance of the other's course.

God bless you, dear friend. Beg the Professor to [204] accept my affectionate respect, and believe me always yours with love.

Journal, 1876.

June 3.—Book V. published a week ago. Growing interest in the public, and growing sale, which has from the beginning exceeded that of "Middlemarch;" the Jewish part apparently creating strong interest.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 3d June, 1876.

The useful "companion," which your loving care has had marked with my initials, will go with me, and be a constant sign of the giver's precious affection, which you have expressed in words such as I most value.

Even success needs its consolations. Wide effects are rarely other than superficial, and would breed a miserable scepticism about one's work if it were not now and then for an earnest assurance such as you give me that there are lives in which the work has done something "to strengthen the good and mitigate the evil."

I am pursued to the last with some bodily trouble—this week it has been sore throat. But I am emerging, and you may think of me next week as raising my "Ebenezer."

Love and blessings to you all.

The manuscript of "Daniel Deronda" bears the following inscription:

"To my dear Husband, George Henry Lewes.

"Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Haply I think on thee—and then my state
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings."
Journal, 1876.

June 10.—We set off on our journey, intending to go to San Martino Lantosc in the Maritime Alps. But I was ill at Aix, where the heat had become oppressive, and we turned northwards after making a pilgrimage to Les Charmettes—stayed a few days at Lausanne, then at Vevey, where again I was ill; then by Berne and Zurich to Ragatz, where we were both set up sufficiently to enjoy our life. After Ragatz to Heidelberg, the Klönthal, Schaffhausen, St. Blasien in the Black Forest, and then home by Strasburg, Nancy, and Amiens, arriving September 1.

Letter to John Blackwood, 6th July, 1876, from Ragatz.

After much travelling we seem to have reached the right place for our health and comfort, and as we hope to stay here for at least a fortnight, I have begun to entertain selfish thoughts about you and the possibility of having news from you. Our month's absence seems long to us—filled with various scenes and various ailments—but to you, I dare say, the request for a letter to tell us what has happened will seem to have come before there is anything particular to tell.

On our arriving at Aix the effect of railway travelling and heat on me warned us to renounce our project of going to the Maritime Alps and to turn northward; so after resting at Aix we went to Chambéry, just to make a pilgrimage to Les Charmettes, and then set our faces northward, staying at beautiful Lausanne and Vevey for a week, and then coming on by easy stages to this nook in the mountains. In spite of illness we have had much enjoyment of the lovely scenery we have been dwelling in ever since we entered Savoy, where one gets what I most delight in—the combination of rich, well-cultivated land, friendly to man, and the grand outline and atmospheric effect of mountains near and distant. [206]

This place seems to be one of the quietest baths possible. Such fashion as there is, is of a German, unimposing kind; and the King of Saxony, who is at the twin hotel with this, is, I imagine, a much quieter kind of eminence than a London stock-broker. At present the company seems to be almost exclusively Swiss and German, but all the appliances for living and carrying on the "cure" are thoroughly generous and agreeable. We rose at five this morning, drank our glasses of warm water, and walked till a quarter to seven, then breakfasted; and from half-past eight to eleven walked to Bad Pfeffers and back again, along a magnificent ravine where the Tamine boils down beneath a tremendous wall of rock, and where it is interesting to see the electric telegraph leaping from the summit, crossing the gulf, and then quietly running by the roadside till it leaps upward again to the opposite summit.

You may consider us as generally ill-informed, and as ready to make much of a little news as any old provincial folk in the days when the stage-coach brought a single London paper to the village Crown or Red Lion. We have known that Servia has declared war against Turkey, and that Harriet Martineau is dead as well as George Sand.

Our weather has been uniformly splendid since we left Paris, with the exception of some storms, which have conveniently laid the dust.

Letter to John Blackwood, 2d Sept. 1876.

We reached home only last night, and had scarcely taken our much-needed dinner before a parcel was brought in which proved to be "Daniel Deronda" in the four bound volumes, and various letters with other "missiles"—as an acquaintance of mine once quite naively called his own favors to his correspondents—which [207] have at present only gone to swell a heap that I mean to make acquaintance with very slowly. Mr. Lewes, however, is more eager than I, and he has just brought up to me a letter which has certainly gratified me more than anything else of the sort I ever received. It is from Dr. Hermann Adler, the Chief Rabbi here, expressing his "warm appreciation of the fidelity with which some of the best traits of the Jewish character have been depicted by" etc., etc. I think this will gratify you.

We are both the better for our journey, and I consider myself in as good case as I can ever reasonably expect. We can't be made young again, and must not be surprised that infirmities recur in spite of mineral waters and air 3000 feet above the sea-level. After Ragatz, we stayed at Stachelberg and Klönthal—two lovely places, where an English face is seldom seen. Another delicious spot, where the air is fit for the gods of Epicurus, is St. Blasien, in the Schwarzwald, where also we saw no English or American visitors, except such as übernachten there and pass on. We have done exploits in walking, usually taking four or five hours of it daily.

I hope that you and yours have kept well and have enjoyed the heat rather than suffered from it. I confess myself glad to think that this planet has not become hopelessly chilly. Draughts and chills are my enemies, and but for them I should hardly ever be ailing.

The four volumes look very handsome on the outside. Please thank Mr. William Blackwood for many kind notes he wrote me in the days of MS. and proofs—not one of which I ever answered or took notice of except for my own behoof. [208]

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 6th Sept. 1876.

We got home again last Friday, much strengthened by our journey, notwithstanding vicissitudes. I suppose you will not be in town for ages to come, but I let you know that I am here in case you have anything to say to me by letter—about "objects."

After leaving Ragatz we still kept in eastern Switzerland, in high valleys unvisited by the English; and in our homeward line of travel we paused in the Schwarzwald at St. Blasien, which is a Luft-kur, all green hills and pines, with their tops as still as if it were the abode of the gods.

But imagine how we enjoy being at home again in our own chairs, with the familiar faces giving us smiles which are not expecting change in franc pieces!

We are both pretty well, but of course not cured of all infirmities. Death is the only physician, the shadow of his valley the only journeying that will cure us of age and the gathering fatigue of years. Still we are thoroughly lively and "spry."

I hope that the hot summer has passed agreeably for you and not been unfavorable to your health or comfort. Of course a little news of you will be welcome, even if you don't particularly want to say anything to me.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 2d Oct. 1876.

My blessing on you for your sweet letter, which I count among the blessings given to me. Yes. Women can do much for the other women (and men) to come. My impression of the good there is in all unselfish efforts is continually strengthened. Doubtless many a ship is drowned on expeditions of discovery or rescue, and precious freights lie buried. But there was the good of manning and furnishing the ship with a great purpose before it set out. [209]

We are going into Cambridgeshire this week, and are watching the weather with private views.[28]

I have had some very interesting letters both from Jews and from Christians about "Deronda." Part of the scene at the club is translated into Hebrew in a German-Jewish newspaper. On the other hand, a Christian (highly accomplished) thanks me for embodying the principles by which Christ wrought and will conquer. This is better than the laudation of readers who cut the book up into scraps, and talk of nothing in it but Gwendolen. I meant everything in the book to be related to everything else there.

I quite enter into Miss Jekyll's view of negative beauty. Life tends to accumulate "messes" about one, and it is hard to rid one's self of them because of the associations attached. I get impatient sometimes, and long, as Andrew Fairservice would say, to "kaim off the fleas," as one does in a cathedral spoiled by monuments out of keeping with the pillars and walls.

Letter to Mrs. Wm. Smith, 14th Oct. 1876.

I had felt it long before you let me have some news of you. How could you repeat deliberately that bad dream of your having made yourself "objectionable?" I will answer for it that you were never objectionable to any creature except perhaps to your own self—a too modest and shrinking self. I trusted in your understanding last spring that I was glad to hear from [210] my friends without having to make the effort of answering, when answering was not demanded for practical purposes. My health was not good, and I was absorbed as to my working power, though not as to my interest and sympathy.

You have been in my mind of late, not only on your own account but in affectionate association with our dear Mrs. Ruck, whose acquaintance I owe to you.

On my return from abroad I found among my heap of letters a delightful one from her, written, I think, at the end of June, as bright and cheering as the hills under the summer sky. And only a day or two after we saw that sad news in the Times. I think of her beautiful, open face, with the marks of grief upon it. Why did you write me such a brief letter, telling me nothing about your own life? I am a poor correspondent, and have to answer many letters from people less interesting to me than you are. Will you not indulge me by writing more to me than you expect me to write to you? That would be generous. We both came back the better for our three months' journeying, though I was so ill after we had got to the south that we thought of returning, and went northward in that expectation. But Ragatz set me up, so far as I expect to be set up, and we greatly enjoyed our fresh glimpses of Swiss scenery.

Mr. Lewes is now printing his third volume of "Problems of Life and Mind," and is, as usual, very happy over his work. He shares my interest in everything that relates to you; and be assured—will you not?—that such interest will always be warm in us. I shall not, while I live, cease to be yours affectionately. [211]

Journal, 1876.

Oct. 20.—Looking into accounts apropos of an offer from Blackwood for another ten years of copyright, I find that before last Christmas there had been distributed 24,577 copies of "Middlemarch."

Letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe,[29] 29th Oct. 1876.

"Evermore thanks" for your last letter, full of generous sympathy that can afford to be frank. The lovely photograph of the grandson will be carefully preserved. It has the sort of beauty which seems to be peculiarly abundant in America, at once rounded and delicate in form.

I do hope you will be able to carry out your wish to visit your son at Bonn, notwithstanding that heavy crown of years that your dear Rabbi has to carry. If the sea voyage could be borne without much disturbance, the land journey might be made easy by taking it in short stages—the plan we always pursue in travelling. You see I have an interested motive in wishing you to come to Europe again, since I can't go to America. But I enter thoroughly into the disinclination to move when there are studies that make each day too short. If we were neighbors, I should be in danger of getting troublesome to the revered Orientalist, with all kinds of questions.

As to the Jewish element in "Deronda," I expected from first to last, in writing it, that it would create much stronger resistance, and even repulsion, than it has actually met with. But precisely because I felt that the usual attitude of Christians towards Jews is—I hardly know whether to say more impious or more stupid when viewed in the light of their professed principles, I therefore felt urged to treat Jews [212] with such sympathy and understanding as my nature and knowledge could attain to. Moreover, not only towards the Jews, but towards all Oriental peoples with whom we English come in contact, a spirit of arrogance and contemptuous dictatorialness is observable which has become a national disgrace to us. There is nothing I should care more to do, if it were possible, than to rouse the imagination of men and women to a vision of human claims in those races of their fellow-men who most differ from them in customs and beliefs. But towards the Hebrews we western people, who have been reared in Christianity, have a peculiar debt, and, whether we acknowledge it or not, a peculiar thoroughness of fellowship in religious and moral sentiment. Can anything be more disgusting than to hear people called "educated" making small jokes about eating ham, and showing themselves empty of any real knowledge as to the relation of their own social and religious life to the history of the people they think themselves witty in insulting? They hardly know that Christ was a Jew. And I find men, educated, supposing that Christ spoke Greek. To my feeling, this deadness to the history which has prepared half our world for us, this inability to find interest in any form of life that is not clad in the same coat-tails and flounces as our own, lies very close to the worst kind of irreligion. The best that can be said of it is, that it is a sign of the intellectual narrowness—in plain English, the stupidity—which is still the average mark of our culture.

Yes, I expected more aversion than I have found. But I was happily independent in material things, and felt no temptation to accommodate my writing to [213] any standard except that of trying to do my best in what seemed to me most needful to be done, and I sum up with the writer of the Book of Maccabees—"If I have done well and as befits the subject, it is what I desired; and if I have done ill, it is what I could attain unto."

You are in the middle of a more glorious autumn than ours, but we, too, are having now and then a little sunshine on the changing woods. I hope that I am right in putting the address from which you wrote to me on the 25th September, so that my note may not linger away from you, and leave you to imagine me indifferent or negligent.

Please offer my reverent regard to Mr. Stowe.

We spent three months in East Switzerland, and are the better for it.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1876.

Any one who knows from experience what bodily infirmity is—how it spoils life even for those who have no other trouble—gets a little impatient of healthy complainants, strong enough for extra work and ignorant of indigestion. I at least should be inclined to scold the discontented young people who tell me in one breath that they never have anything the matter with them, and that life is not worth having, if I did not remember my own young discontent. It is remarkable to me that I have entirely lost my personal melancholy. I often, of course, have melancholy thoughts about the destinies of my fellow creatures, but I am never in that mood of sadness which used to be my frequent visitant even in the midst of external happiness; and this, notwithstanding a very vivid sense that life is declining and death close at hand. We are waiting with some expectation for Miss Martineau's Autobiography, which, I fancy, will [214] be charming so far as her younger and less renowned life extends. All biography diminishes in interest when the subject has won celebrity—or some reputation that hardly comes up to celebrity. But autobiography at least saves a man or woman that the world is curious about from the publication of a string of mistakes called "Memoirs." It would be nice if we could be a trio—I mean you, Cara, and I—chatting together for an hour as we used to do when I had walked over the hill to see you. But that pleasure belongs to "the days that are no more." Will you believe that an accomplished man some years ago said to me that he saw no place for the exercise of resignation when there was no personal divine will contemplated as ordaining sorrow or privation? He is not yet aware that he is getting old and needing that unembittered compliance of soul with the inevitable which seems to me a full enough meaning for the word "resignation."

Journal, 1876.

Dec. 1.—Since we came home at the beginning of September I have been made aware of much repugnance or else indifference towards the Jewish part of "Deronda," and of some hostile as well as adverse reviewing. On the other hand, there have been the strongest expressions of interest, some persons adhering to the opinion, started during the early numbers, that the book is my best. Delightful letters have here and there been sent to me; and the sale both in America and in England has been an unmistakable guarantee that the public has been touched. Words of gratitude have come from Jews and Jewesses, and these are certain signs that I may have contributed my mite to a good result. The sale hitherto has exceeded that of "Middlemarch," as to the [215] £2 2s. four-volume form, but we do not expect an equal success for the guinea edition which has lately been issued.

Dec. 11.—We have just bought a house in Surrey, and think of it as making a serious change in our life—namely, that we shall finally settle there and give up town.

This was a charming house—The Heights, Witley, near Godalming. It stands on a gentle hill overlooking a lovely bit of characteristic English scenery. In the foreground green fields, prettily timbered, undulate up to the high ground of Haslemere in front, with Blackdown (where Tennyson lives) on the left hand, and Hind Head on the right—"Heights that laugh with corn in August, or lift the plough-team against the sky in September." Below, the white steam-pennon flies along in the hollow. The walks and drives in the neighborhood are enchanting. A land of pine-woods and copses, village greens and heather-covered hills, with the most delicious old red or gray brick, timbered cottages nestling among creeping roses; the sober-colored tiles of their roofs, covered with lichen, offering a perpetual harmony to the eye. The only want in the landscape is the want of flowing water. About the house there are some eight or nine acres of pleasure ground and gardens. It quite fulfilled all expectations, as regards beauty and convenience of situation, though I am not quite sure that it was bracing enough for health.

Journal, 1876.

Dec. 15.—At the beginning of this week I had deep satisfaction from reading in the Times the report of a lecture on "Daniel Deronda," delivered by Dr. Hermann [216] Adler to the Jewish working-men—a lecture showing much insight and implying an expectation of serious benefit. Since then I have had a delightful letter from the Jewish Theological Seminary at Breslau, written by an American Jew named Isaacs, who excuses himself for expressing his feeling of gratitude on reading "Deronda," and assures me of his belief that it has even already had an elevating effect on the minds of some among his people—predicting that the effect will spread.

I have also had a request from Signor Bartolommeo Aquarone, of Siena, for leave to translate "Romola," and declaring that as one who has given special study to the history of San Marco, and has written a life of Fra Jeronimo Savonarola, he cares that "Romola" should be known to his countrymen, for their good. Magnificat anima mea! And last night I had a letter from Dr. Benisch, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, announcing a copy of the paper containing an article written by himself on reading "Deronda" (there have long ago been two articles in the same journal reviewing the book), and using strong words as to the effect the book is producing. I record these signs, that I may look back on them if they come to be confirmed.

Dec. 31.—We have spent the Christmas with our friends at Weybridge, but the greater part of the time I was not well enough to enjoy greatly the pleasures their affection prepared for us.

Farewell 1876.


The Heights, Witley.
From a Sketch by Mrs. Allingham

The Heights, Witley,
From a Sketch by Mrs. Allingham.

Journal, 1877.

Jan. 1.—The year opens with public anxieties. First, about the threatening war in the East; and next, about the calamities consequent on the continued rains. As to our private life, all is happiness, [217] perfect love, and undiminished intellectual interest. G.'s third volume is about half-way in print.

Letter to James Sully, 19th Jan. 1877.

I don't know that I ever heard anybody use the word "meliorist" except myself. But I begin to think that there is no good invention or discovery that has not been made by more than one person.

The only good reason for referring to the "source" would be that you found it useful for the doctrine of meliorism to cite one unfashionable confessor of it in the face of the fashionable extremes.

Letter to John Blackwood, 30th Jan. 1877.

What are we to do about "Romola?" It ought to range with the cheap edition of my books—which, exceptis excipiendis, is a beautiful edition—as well as with any handsomer series which the world's affairs may encourage us to publish. The only difficulty lies in the illustrations required for uniformity. The illustrations in the other volumes are, as Mr. Lewes says, not queerer than those which amuse us in Scott and Miss Austin, with one exception—namely, that where Adam is making love to Dinah, which really enrages me with its unctuousness. I would gladly pay something to be rid of it. The next worst is that of Adam in the wood with Arthur Donnithorne. The rest are endurable to a mind well accustomed to resignation. And the vignettes on the title-pages are charming. But if an illustrator is wanted, I know one whose work is exquisite—Mrs. Allingham.

This is not a moment for new ventures, but it will take some time to prepare "Romola." I should like to see proofs, feeling bound to take care of my text; and I have lately been glancing into a book on Italian things, where almost every citation I alighted on was incorrectly printed. I have just read through the cheap edition of "Romola," and though I have only [218] made a few alterations of an unimportant kind—the printing being unusually correct—it would be well for me to send this copy to be printed from. I think it must be nearly ten years since I read the book before, but there is no book of mine about which I more thoroughly feel that I could swear by every sentence as having been written with my best blood, such as it is, and with the most ardent care for veracity of which my nature is capable. It has made me often sob with a sort of painful joy as I have read the sentences which had faded from my memory. This helps one to bear false representations with patience; for I really don't love any gentleman who undertakes to state my opinions well enough to desire that I should find myself all wrong in order to justify his statement.

I wish, whenever it is expedient, to add "The Lifted Veil" and "Brother Jacob," and so fatten the volume containing "Silas Marner," which would thus become about 100 pages thicker.

Letter to William Allingham, 8th March, 1877.

Mr. Lewes feels himself innocent of dialect in general, and of Midland dialect in especial. Hence I presume to take your reference on the subject as if it had been addressed to me. I was born and bred in Warwickshire, and heard the Leicestershire, North Staffordshire, and Derbyshire dialects during visits made in my childhood and youth. These last are represented (mildly) in "Adam Bede." The Warwickshire talk is broader, and has characteristics which it shares with other Mercian districts. Moreover, dialect, like other living things, tends to become mongrel, especially in a central, fertile, and manufacturing region, attractive of migration; and hence the Midland talk presents less interesting relics of elder grammar than the more northerly dialects. [219]

Perhaps, unless a poet has a dialect ringing in his ears, so as to shape his metre and rhymes according to it at one jet, it is better to be content with a few suggestive touches; and, I fear, that the stupid public is not half grateful for studies in dialect beyond such suggestions.

I have made a few notes, which may perhaps be not unacceptable to you in the absence of more accomplished aid:

1. The vowel always a double sound, the y sometimes present, sometimes not; either aäl or yaäl. Hither not heard except in c'moother, addressed to horses.

2. Thou never heard. In general, the 2d person singular not used in Warwickshire except occasionally to young members of a family, and then always in the form of theei.e., 'ee. For the emphatic nominative, yo, like the Lancashire. For the accusative, yer, without any sound of the r. The demonstrative those never heard among the common people (unless when caught by infection from the parson, etc.). Self pronounced sen. The f never heard in of, nor the n in in.

3. Not year but 'ear. On the other hand, with the usual "compensation," head is pronounced yead.

4. "A gallows little chap as e'er ye see."

5. Here's to you, maäster.
Saäm to yo.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 20th March, 1877.

You must read Harriet Martineau's "Autobiography." The account of her childhood and early youth is most pathetic and interesting; but as in all books of the kind, the charm departs as the life advances, and the writer has to tell of her own triumphs. One regrets continually that she felt it necessary not only to tell of her intercourse with many more or less distinguished [220] persons—which would have been quite pleasant to everybody—but also to pronounce upon their entire merits and demerits, especially when, if she had died as soon as she expected, these persons would nearly all have been living to read her gratuitous rudenesses. Still I hope the book will do more good than harm. Many of the most interesting little stories in it about herself and others she had told me (and Mr. Atkinson) when I was staying with her, almost in the very same words. But they were all the better for being told in her silvery voice. She was a charming talker, and a perfect lady in her manners as a hostess.

We are only going to bivouac in our Surrey home for a few months, to try what alterations are necessary. We shall come back to this corner in the autumn. We don't think of giving up London altogether at present, but we may have to give up life before we come to any decision on that minor point.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 15th May, 1877.

Pray bring Madame Mario to see us again. But bear in mind that on Sunday the 27th—which probably will be our last Sunday in London—Holmes the violinist is coming to play, with Mrs. Vernon Lushington to accompany him. Don't mention to any one else that they are coming, lest the audience should be larger than he wishes.

We are working a little too hard at "pleasure" just now. This morning we are going for the third time to a Wagner rehearsal at 10 o'clock.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th May, 1877.

I have not read, and do not mean to read, Mrs. Chapman's volume, so that I can judge of it only by report. You seem to me to make a very good case for removing the weight of blame from her shoulders and transferring it to the already burdened back of Harriet Martineau. But I confess that the more I [221] think of the book and all connected with it, the more it deepens my repugnance—or, rather, creates a new repugnance in me—to autobiography, unless it can be so written as to involve neither self-glorification nor impeachment of others. I like that the "He, being dead, yet speaketh," should have quite another meaning than that. But however the blame may be distributed, it remains a grievously pitiable thing to me that man, or woman, who has cared about a future life in the minds of a coming generation or generations, should have deliberately, persistently mingled with that prospect the ignoble desire to perpetuate personal animosities, which can never be rightly judged by those immediately engaged in them. And Harriet Martineau, according to the witness of those well acquainted with facts which she represents in her Autobiography, was quite remarkably apt to have a false view of her relations with others. In some cases she gives a ridiculously inaccurate account of the tenor or bearing of correspondence held with her. One would not for a moment want to dwell on the weakness of a character on the whole valuable and beneficent, if it were not made needful by the ready harshness with which she has inflicted pain on others.

No; I did not agree with you about the Byron case. I understand by the teaching of my own egoism—and therefore I can sympathize with—any act of self-vindicating or vindictive rage under the immediate infliction of what is felt to be a wrong or injustice. But I have no sympathy with self-vindication, or the becoming a proxy in vindication, deliberately bought at such a price as that of vitiating revelations—which may even possibly be false. To write a letter in a rage is very pardonable—even a letter full of gall and bitterness, [222] meant as a sort of poisoned dagger. We poor mortals can hardly escape these sins of passion. But I have no pity to spare for the rancor that corrects its proofs and revises, and lays it by chuckling with the sense of its future publicity.

Letter to Professor Dr. David Kaufmann, 31st May, 1877.

Hardly, since I became an author, have I had a deeper satisfaction—I may say, a more heartfelt joy—than you have given me in your estimate of "Daniel Deronda."

I must tell you that it is my rule, very strictly observed, not to read the criticisms on my writings. For years I have found this abstinence necessary to preserve me from that discouragement as an artist which ill-judged praise, no less than ill-judged blame, tends to produce in me. For far worse than any verdict as to the proportion of good and evil in our work, is the painful impression that we write for a public which has no discernment of good and evil.

Certainly if I had been asked to choose what should be written about my books, and who should write it, I should have sketched—well, not anything so good as what you have written, but an article which must be written by a Jew who showed not merely a sympathy with the best aspirations of his race, but a remarkable insight into the nature of art and the processes of the artistic mind.

Believe me, I should not have cared to devour even ardent praise if it had not come from one who showed the discriminating sensibility, the perfect response to the artist's intention, which must make the fullest, rarest joy to one who works from inward conviction and not in compliance with current fashions.

Such a response holds for an author not only what is best in "the life that now is," but the promise of [223] "that which is to come." I mean that the usual approximative narrow perception of what one has been intending and profoundly feeling in one's work, impresses one with the sense that it must be poor perishable stuff, without roots to take any lasting hold in the minds of men; while any instance of complete comprehension encourages one to hope that the creative prompting has foreshadowed and will continue to satisfy a need in other minds.

Excuse me that I write but imperfectly, and perhaps dimly, what I have felt in reading your article. It has affected me deeply, and though the prejudice and ignorant obtuseness which has met my effort to contribute something towards the ennobling of Judaism in the conceptions of the Christian community, and in the consciousness of the Jewish community, has never for a moment made me repent my choice, but rather has been added proof that the effort was needed—yet I confess that I had an unsatisfied hunger for certain signs of sympathetic discernment which you only have given.

I may mention as one instance your clear perception of the relation between the presentation of the Jewish elements and those of English social life.

I write under the pressure of small hurries; for we are just moving into the country for the summer, and all things are in a vagrant condition around me. But I wished not to defer answering your letter to an uncertain opportunity.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 14th June, 1877.

I am greatly indebted to you for your letter. It has done something towards rousing me from what I will not call self-despair but resignation to being of no use.[224]

I wonder whether you at all imagine the terrible pressure of disbelief in my own {dutyright} to speak to the public, which is apt with me to make all beginnings of work like a rowing against tide. Not that I am without more than my fair ounce of self-conceit and confidence that I know better than the critics, whom I don't take the trouble to read, but who seem to fill the air as with the smoke of bad tobacco.

But I will not dwell on my antithetic experiences. I only mention them to show why your letter has done me a service, and also to help in the explanation of my mental attitude towards your requests or suggestions.

I do not quite understand whether you have in your mind any plan of straightway constructing a liturgy to which you wish me to contribute in a direct way. That form of contribution would hardly be within my powers. But your words of trust in me as possibly an organ of feelings which have not yet found their due expression is as likely as any external call could be to prompt such perfectly unfettered productions as that which you say has been found acceptable.

I wasted some time, three years ago, in writing (what I do not mean to print) a poetic dialogue embodying or rather shadowing very imperfectly the actual contest of ideas. Perhaps what you have written to me may promote and influence a different kind of presentation. At any rate all the words of your letter will be borne in mind, and will enter into my motives.

We are tolerably settled now in our camping, experimental fashion. Perhaps, before the summer is far advanced, you may be in our neighborhood, and come to look at us. I trust that Mrs. Harrison is by [225] this time in her usual health. Please give my love to her, and believe me always, with many grateful memories, yours sincerely.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 2d July, 1877.

It was a draught of real comfort and pleasure to have a letter written by your own hand, and one altogether cheerful.[30] I trust that you will by-and-by be able to write me word of continued progress. Hardly any bit of the kingdom, I fancy, would suit your taste better than your neighborhood of the Land's End. You are not fond of bushy midland-fashioned scenery. We are enjoying the mixture of wildness and culture extremely, and so far as landscape and air go we would not choose a different home from this. But we have not yet made up our minds whether we shall keep our house or sell it.

Some London friends are also occasional dwellers in these parts. The day before yesterday we had Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Harrison, whose parents have a fine old Tudor house—Sutton Place—some three miles beyond Guildford. And do you remember Edmund Gurney? He and his graceful bride lunched with us the other day. And Miss Thackeray is married to-day to young Ritchie. I saw him at Cambridge, and felt that the nearly twenty years' difference between them was bridged hopefully by his solidity and gravity. This is one of several instances that I have known of lately, showing that young men with even brilliant advantages will often choose as their life's companion a woman whose attractions are chiefly of the spiritual order.

I often see you enjoying your sunsets and the wayside flowers.


Letter to William Allingham, 26th Aug. 1877.

I hope that this letter may be sent on to you in some delicious nook where your dear wife is by your side preparing to make us all richer with store of new sketches. I almost fear that I am implying unbecoming claims in asking you to send me a word or two of news about your twofold, nay, fourfold self. But you must excuse in me a presumption which is simply a feeling of spiritual kinship, bred by reading in the volume you gave me before we left town.

That tremendous tramp—"Life, Death; Life, Death"[31] —makes me care the more, as age makes it the more audible to me, for those younger ones who are keeping step behind me.

Letter to Professor Kaufmann, 12th Oct. 1877.

I trust it will not be otherwise than gratifying to you to know that your stirring article on "Daniel Deronda" is now translated into English by a son of Professor Ferrier, who was a philosophical writer of considerable mark. It will be issued in a handsomer form than that of the pamphlet, and will appear within this autumnal publishing season, Messrs. Blackwood having already advertised it. Whenever a copy is ready we shall have the pleasure of sending it to you. There is often something to be borne with in reading one's own writing in a translation, but I hope that in this case you will not be made to wince severely.

In waiting to send you this news, I seem to have deferred too long the expression of my warm thanks for your kindness in sending me the Hebrew translations [227] of Lessing and the collection of Hebrew poems—a kindness which I felt myself rather presumptuous in asking for, since your time must be well filled with more important demands. Yet I must further beg you, when you have an opportunity, to assure Herr Bacher that I was most gratefully touched by the sympathetic verses with which he enriched the gift of his work.

I see by your last letter that your Theological Seminary was to open on the 4th of this month, so that this too retrospective letter of mine will reach you when you are in the midst of your new duties. I trust that this new institution will be a great good to professor and students, and that your position is of a kind that you contemplate as permanent. To teach the young personally has always seemed to me the most satisfactory supplement to teaching the world through books; and I have often wished that I had such a means of having fresh, living spiritual children within sight.

One can hardly turn one's thought towards Eastern Europe just now without a mingling of pain and dread, but we mass together distant scenes and events in an unreal way, and one would like to believe that the present troubles will not at any time press on you in Hungary with more external misfortune than on us in England.

Mr. Lewes is happily occupied in his psychological studies. We both look forward to the reception of the work you kindly promised us, and he begs me to offer you his best regards.

Letter to the Hon. Mrs. Ponsonby, 17th Oct. 1877.

I like to know that you have been thinking of me and that you care to write to me, and though I will not disobey your considerate prohibition so far as to [228] try to answer your letter fully, I must content my soul by telling you that we shall be settled in the old place by the end of the first week in November, and that I shall be delighted to see you then. There are many subjects that I shall have a special pleasure in talking of with you.

Let me say now that the passage quoted from your friend's letter is one that I am most glad to find falling in with your own attitude of mind. The view is what I have endeavored to represent in a little poem called "Stradivarius," which you may not have happened to read.

I say, not God Himself can make man's best
Without best men to help Him.

And next: I think direct personal portraiture—or caricature—is a bastard kind of satire that I am not disposed to think the better of because Aristophanes used it in relation to Socrates. Do you know that pretty story about Bishop Thirlwall? When somebody wanted to bring to him Forchhammer as a distinguished German writer, he replied, "No; I will never receive into my house the man who justified the death of Socrates!"

"O that we were all of one mind, and that mind good!" is an impossible-to-be-realized wish: and I don't wish it at all in its full extent. But I think it would be possible that men should differ speculatively as much as they do now, and yet be "of one mind" in the desire to avoid giving unnecessary pain, in the desire to do an honest part towards the general well-being, which has made a comfortable nidus for themselves, in the resolve not to sacrifice another to their own egoistic promptings. Pity and fairness—two little [229] words which, carried out, would embrace the utmost delicacies of the moral life—seem to me not to rest on an unverifiable hypothesis but on facts quite as irreversible as the perception that a pyramid will not stand on its apex.

I am so glad you have been enjoying Ireland in quiet. We love our bit of country and are bent on keeping it as a summer refuge.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 6th Nov. 1877, from the Priory.

Apropos of authorship, I was a little uneasy on Sunday because I had seemed in the unmanageable current of talk to echo a too slight way of speaking about a great poet. I did not mean to say Amen when the "Idylls of the King" seemed to be judged rather de haut en bas. I only meant that I should value for my own mind "In Memoriam" as the chief of the larger works; and that while I feel exquisite beauty in passages scattered through the "Idylls," I must judge some smaller wholes among the lyrics as the works most decisive of Tennyson's high place among the immortals.

Not that my deliverance on this matter is of any moment, but that I cannot bear to fall in with the sickening fashion of people who talk much about writers whom they read little, and pronounce on a great man's powers with only half his work in their mind, while if they remembered the other half they would find their judgments as to his limits flatly contradicted. Then, again, I think Tennyson's dramas such as the world should be glad of—and would be, if there had been no prejudgment that he could not write a drama.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 10th Nov. 1877.

Never augur ill because you do not hear from me. It is, you know, my profession not to write letters. Happily I can meet your kind anxiety by contraries. [230] I have for two months and more been in better health than I have known for several years. This pleasant effect is due to the delicious air of the breezy Surrey hills; and, further, to a friend's insistence on my practising lawn-tennis as a daily exercise.

We are in love with our Surrey house, and only regret that it hardly promises to be snug enough for us chilly people through the winter, so that we dare not think of doing without the warmer nest in town.

Journal, 1877.

Nov. 10.—We went to the Heights, Witley, at the beginning of June, after a delightful visit to Cambridge, and returned to this old home on the 29th October. We are at last in love with our Surrey house, and mean to keep it. The air and abundant exercise have quite renovated my health, and I am in more bodily comfort than I have known for several years. But my dear husband's condition is less satisfactory, his headaches still tormenting him.

Since the year began several little epochs have marked themselves. Blackwood offered for another ten years' copyright of my works, the previous agreement for ten years having expired. I declined, choosing to have a royalty. G.'s third volume has been well received, and has sold satisfactorily for a book so little in the popular taste. A pleasant correspondence has been opened with Professor Kaufmann, now Principal of the Jewish Theological Seminary at Pesth; and his "Attempt at an Appreciation of 'Daniel Deronda'" has been translated into English by young Ferrier, son of Professor Ferrier.

A new Cabinet edition of my works, including "Romola," has been decided on, and is being prepared; and there have been multiplied signs that the [231] spiritual effect of "Deronda" is growing. In America the book is placed above all my previous writings.

Our third little Hampstead granddaughter has been born, and was christened Saturday—the 3d—Elinor.

Yesterday Mr. Macmillan came to ask me if I would undertake to write the volume on Shakespeare, in a series to be issued under the title "Men of Letters." I have declined.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Nov. 1877.

Having a more secure freedom than I may have next week, I satisfy my eagerness to tell you that I am longing for the news of you which you have accustomed me to trust in as sure to come at this time of the year. You will give me, will you not, something more than an affectionate greeting? You will tell me how and where you have been, and what is the actual state of your health and spirits—whether you can still interest yourself in writing on great subjects without too much fatigue, and what companionship is now the most precious to you? We returned from our country home (with which we are much in love) at the beginning of this month, leaving it earlier than we wished because of the need to get workmen into it. Our bit of Surrey has the beauties of Scotland wedded to those of Warwickshire. During the last two months of our stay there I was conscious of more health and strength than I have known for several years. Imagine me playing at lawn-tennis by the hour together! The world I live in is chiefly one that has grown around me in these later years, since we have seen so little of each other. Doubtless we are both greatly changed in spiritual as well as bodily matters, but I think we are unchanged in the friendship founded on early memories. I, for my part, feel increasing gratitude for the cheering and stimulus [232] your companionship gave me, and only think with pain that I might have profited more by it if my mind had been more open to good influences.

Journal, 1877.

Nov. 26.—The other day we saw in the Times that G.'s name had been proposed for the Rectorship of St. Andrews. Blackwood writes me that in less than a month they have sold off all but 400 of the 5250 printed; and in October were sold 495 of the 3s. 6d. edition of "Adam Bede."

Our friend Dr. Allbut came to see us last week, after we had missed each other for three or four years.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 3d Dec. 1877.

I have been made rather unhappy by my husband's impulsive proposal about Christmas. We are dull old persons, and your two sweet young ones ought to find each Christmas a new bright bead to string on their memory, whereas to spend the time with us would be to string on a dark, shrivelled berry. They ought to have a group of young creatures to be joyful with. Our own children always spend their Christmas with Gertrude's family, and we have usually taken our sober merry-making with friends out of town. Illness among these will break our custom this year; and thus mein Mann, feeling that our Christmas was free, considered how very much he liked being with you, omitting the other side of the question—namely, our total lack of means to make a suitably joyous meeting, a real festival, for Phil and Margaret. I was conscious of this lack in the very moment of the proposal, and the consciousness has been pressing on me more and more painfully ever since. Even my husband's affectionate hopefulness cannot withstand my melancholy demonstration.

So pray consider the kill-joy proposition as entirely retracted, and give us something of yourselves, only [233] on simple black-letter days when the Herald Angels have not been raising expectations early in the morning.

I am not afraid of your misunderstanding one word. You know that it is not a little love with which I am yours ever.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 13th Dec. 1877.

Your note yesterday gave me much comfort, and I thank you for sparing the time to write it.

The world cannot seem quite the same to me as long as you are all in anxiety about her who is most precious to you[32] —in immediate urgent anxiety that is. For love is never without its shadow of anxiety. We have this treasure in earthen vessels.

Journal, 1877.

Dec. 31.—To-day I say a final farewell to this little book, which is the only record I have made of my personal life for sixteen years and more. I have often been helped, in looking back in it, to compare former with actual states of despondency, from bad health or other apparent causes. In this way a past despondency has turned to present hopefulness. But of course, as the years advance, there is a new rational ground for the expectation that my life may become less fruitful. The difficulty is to decide how far resolution should set in the direction of activity rather than in the acceptance of a more negative state. Many conceptions of work to be carried out present themselves, but confidence in my own fitness to complete them worthily is all the more wanting because it is reasonable to argue that I must have already done my best. In fact, my mind is embarrassed by the number and wide variety of subjects that attract me, and the enlarging vista that each brings with it.


I shall record no more in this book, because I am going to keep a more business-like diary. Here ends 1877.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 17th Jan. 1878.

Yes, it is a comfort to me, in the midst of so many dispiriting European signs, that France has come so far through her struggle. And no doubt you are rejoicing too that London University has opened all its degrees to women.

I think we know no reading more amusing than the Times just now. We are deep among the gravities. I have been reading aloud Green's first volume of his new, larger "History of the English People;" and this evening have begun Lecky's "History of England in the Eighteenth Century"—in fact, we are dull old fogies, who are ill-informed about anything that is going on of an amusing kind. On Monday we took a youth to the pantomime, but I found it a melancholy business. The dear old story of Puss in Boots was mis-handled in an exasperating way, and every incident as well as pretence of a character turned into a motive for the most vulgar kind of dancing. I came away with a headache, from which I am only to-day recovered. It is too cruel that one can't get anything innocent as a spectacle for the children!

Mr. Lewes sends his best love, but is quite barren of suggestions about books—buried in pink and lilac periodicals of a physiological sort, and preoccupied with the case of a man who has an artificial larynx, with which he talks very well.

What do you say to the phonograph, which can report gentlemen's bad speeches with all their stammering?

Letter to John Blackwood, 26th Jan. 1878.

I like to think of you and Mrs. Blackwood taking your daughter to Rome. It will be a delightful way [235] of reviving memories, to mingle and compare them with her fresh impressions, and in a spiritual sense to have what Shakespeare says is the joy of having offspring—"to see your blood warm while you feel it cold." I wish that and all other prospects were not marred by the threat of widening war.

Last night I finished reading Principal Tulloch's small but full volume on "Pascal"—a present for which I am much obliged. It is admirably fair and dispassionate, and I should think will be an acceptable piece of instruction to many readers. The brief and graphic way in which he has made present and intelligible the position of the Port Royalists is an example of just what is needed in such a series as the Foreign Classics. But of course they are the most fortunate contributors who have to write about the authors, less commonly treated of, and especially when they are prepared to write by an early liking and long familiarity—as in the present case. I have read every line of appreciation with interest. My first acquaintance with Pascal came from his "Pensées" being given to me, as a school prize, when I was fourteen; and I am continually turning to them now to revive my sense of their deep though broken wisdom. It is a pity that "La Bruyère" cannot be done justice to by any merely English presentation. There is a sentence of his which touches with the finest point the diseased spot in the literary culture of our time—"Le plaisir de la critique nous ôté celui d'être vivement touchés de tres belles choses." We see that our present fashions are old, but there is this difference, that they are followed by a greater multitude.

You may be sure I was very much cheered by your last despatch—the solid unmistakable proof that my books are not yet superfluous. [236]

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 23d March, 1878.

As to my enjoyment of the "Two Grenadiers," it would have been impossible but for the complete reduction of it to symbolism in my own mind, and my belief that it really touches nobody now, as enthusiasm for the execrable Napoleon I. But I feel that the devotion of the common soldier to his leader (the sign for him of hard duty) is the type of all higher devotedness, and is full of promise to other and better generations.

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 7th June, 1878.

The royalties did themselves much credit.[33] The Crown Prince is really a grand-looking man, whose name you would ask for with expectation, if you imagined him no royalty. He is like a grand antique bust—cordial and simple in manners withal, shaking hands, and insisting that I should let him know when we next came to Berlin, just as if he had been a Professor Gruppe, living au troisième. She is equally good-natured and unpretending, liking best to talk of nursing soldiers, and of what her father's taste was in literature. She opened the talk by saying, "You know my sister Louise"—just as any other slightly embarrassed mortal might have done. We had a picked party to dinner—Dean of Westminster, Bishop of Peterborough, Lord and Lady Ripon, Dr. Lyon Playfair, Kinglake (you remember "Eothen"—the old gentleman is a good friend of mine), Froude, Mrs. Ponsonby (Lord Grey's granddaughter), and two or three more "illustrations;" then a small detachment coming in after dinner. It was really an interesting occasion.

We go to Oxford to-morrow (to the Master of Balliol).


Letter to John Blackwood, 27th June, 1878, from Witley.

I hope we are not wrong in imagining you settled at Strathtyrum, with a fresh power of enjoying the old scenes after your exile, in spite of the abstinence from work—the chief sweetness of life. Mr. Lewes, too, is under a regimen for gout, which casts its threatening shadow in the form of nightly cramps and inward malaise. He wants me to tell you something amusing—a bit of Baboo English, from an Indian journal sent us by Lord Lytton. Apropos of Sir G. Campbell's rash statement that India was no good to England, the accomplished writer says, "But British House of Commons stripped him to pieces, and exposed his cui bono in all its naked hideousness!" After all, I think the cultivated Hindoo writing what he calls English, is about on a par with the authors of leading articles on this side of the globe writing what they call English—accusing or laudatory epithets and phrases, adjusted to some dim standard of effect quite aloof from any knowledge or belief of their own.

Letter-writing, I imagine, is counted as "work" from which you must abstain; and I scribble this letter simply from the self-satisfied notion that you will like to hear from me. You see I have asked no questions, which are the torture-screws of correspondence, hence you have nothing to answer. How glad I shall be of an announcement that "No further bulletins will be sent, Mr. Blackwood having gone to golf again."

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 18th July, 1878.

I thought you understood that I have grave reasons for not speaking on certain public topics. No request from the best friend in the world—even from my own husband—ought to induce me to speak when I judge it my duty to be silent. If I had taken a contrary decision, I should not have remained silent till now. My function is that of the æsthetic, not the doctrinal [238] teacher—the rousing of the nobler emotions, which make mankind desire the social right, not the prescribing of special measures, concerning which the artistic mind, however strongly moved by social sympathy, is often not the best judge. It is one thing to feel keenly for one's fellow-beings; another to say, "This step, and this alone, will be the best to take for the removal of particular calamities."

Letter to John Blackwood, 30th July, 1878.

I did hope that by the time your military evolutions were over, we might see our way to enjoying the kind welcome which you and Mrs. Blackwood have offered us. No expedition attracts us more than the projected visit to Strathtyrum. Unhappily, Mr. Lewes continues to be troubled and depressed by symptoms that, with the recollection upon us of the crippling gout which once followed them, quite rob us of the courage to leave home. The journey and the excitement, which would be part of his pleasure if he were tolerably well, seem to him now dangerous to encounter—and I am not myself robust enough to venture on a risk of illness to him; so that I cannot supply the daring he needs. We begin to think that we shall be obliged to defer our pleasure of seeing you in your own home—so promising of walks and talks, such as we can never have a chance of in London—until we have the disadvantage of counting ourselves a year older. I am very sorry. But it is better to know that you are getting well, and we unable to see you, than to think of you as an invalid, unable to receive us. We must satisfy ourselves with the good we have—including the peace, and the promise of an abundant wheat harvest.

Please ask Mrs. and Miss Blackwood to accept my best regards, and assure them that I counted much on [239] a longer, quieter intercourse with them in a few sunny days away from hotels and callers.

Do not write when writing seems a task. Otherwise you know how well I like to have a letter from you.

Letter to William Blackwood, 15th Aug. 1878.

We have certainly to pay for all our other happiness, which is a Benjamin's share, by many small bodily miseries. Mr. Lewes continues ailing, and I am keeping him company with headache. "Rejoice, O young man, in the days of thy youth," and keep a reserve of strength for the more evil days. Especially avoid breaking your neck in hunting. Mr. Lewes did once try horseback, some years ago, but found the exercise too violent for him. I think a Highland sheltie would be the suitable nag, only he is very fond of walking; and between that and lawn-tennis he tires himself sufficiently.

I shall hope by and by to hear more good news about your uncle's health.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 26th Aug. 1878.

Shall you mind the trouble of writing me a few words of news about you and yours? just to let me know how things are with you, and deliver me from evil dreams.

We have been so ailing in the midst of our country joys that I need to hear of my friends being well as a ground for cheerfulness—a bit of sugar in the cup of resignation. Perhaps this fine summer has been altogether delightful to you. Let me know this good, and satisfy the thirsty sponge of my affection. If you object to my phrase, please to observe that it is Dantesque—which will oblige you to find it admirable.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 26th Aug. 1878.

You remember the case of the old woman of whom her murderers confessed that they had beaten her to death, "partly with crowbars and partly with their fists." Well, I have been beaten into silence since [240] your kind letter, partly by visitors and partly by continual headache. I am a shade or two better this morning, and my soul has half awaked to run its daily stage of duty. Happily I was temporarily relieved from headache during our friends' (the Tom Trollopes') visit. We took them to see Tennyson, and they were delighted with the reading which he very amiably gave us. Then the Du Mauriers came to dine with us on the Thursday, and so the time was not, I hope, too languid for our visitors.

Mr. Lewes continues to show improvement in health, so that the balance of good is not much altered by my deficit.

We shall be pleased to have any news of you, whether by post or person.

At this time I was in the habit of going over occasionally from Weybridge on Sundays. The shadow of trouble was on both our houses. My mother was in her last illness, and Mr. Lewes was constantly ailing, though none of us then thought that he would be taken first. But the sharing of a common anxiety contributed to make our friendship much more intimate. In our drives in the neighborhood of Witley, Mr. Lewes used sometimes to be suddenly seized with severe cramping pains. I think he was himself aware that something was far wrong, but the moment the pain ceased the extraordinary buoyancy of his spirits returned. Nothing but death could quench that bright flame. Even on his worst days he had always a good story to tell; and I remember on one occasion, between two bouts of pain, he sang through, with great brio, though without much voice, the greater portion of the tenor part in the "Barber of Seville"—George [241] Eliot playing his accompaniment, and both of them thoroughly enjoying the fun.

They led a very secluded life at Witley—as always in their country retreats—but enjoyed the society of some of their neighbors. Sir Henry and Lady Holland, who lived next door; charming Mrs. Thellusson and her daughter, Mrs. Greville, who lived between Witley and Godalming, were especial friends. The Tennysons, too, and the Du Mauriers and Allinghams, were all within easy visiting distance. George Eliot's dislike of London life continued to increase with the increasing number of her acquaintance, and consequent demands on time. The Sunday receptions, confined to a small number of intimate friends in 1867, had gradually extended themselves to a great variety of interesting people.

These receptions have been so often and so well described that they have hitherto occupied rather a disproportionate place in the accounts of George Eliot's life. It will have been noticed that there is very little allusion to them in the letters; but, owing to the seclusion of her life, it happened that the large majority of people who knew George Eliot as an author never met her elsewhere. Her salon was important as a meeting-place for many friends whom she cared greatly to see, but it was not otherwise important in her own life. For she was eminently not a typical mistress of a salon. It was difficult for her, mentally, to move from one person to another. Playing around many disconnected subjects, in talk, neither interested her nor amused her much. She took things too seriously, and seldom found the effort of entertaining compensated [242] by the gain. Fortunately Mr. Lewes supplied any qualities lacking in the hostess. A brilliant talker, a delightful raconteur, versatile, full of resource in the social difficulties of amalgamating diverse groups, and bridging over awkward pauses, he managed to secure for these gatherings most of the social success which they obtained. Many of the réunions were exceedingly agreeable and interesting, especially when they were not too crowded, when general conversation could be maintained. But the larger the company grew the more difficult it was to manage. The English character does not easily accommodate itself to the exigencies of a salon. There is a fatal tendency to break up into small groups. The entertainment was frequently varied by music when any good performer happened to be present. I think, however, that the majority of visitors delighted chiefly to come for the chance of a few words with George Eliot alone. When the drawing-room door of the Priory opened, a first glance revealed her always in the same low arm-chair on the left-hand side of the fire. On entering, a visitor's eye was at once arrested by the massive head. The abundant hair, streaked with gray now, was draped with lace, arranged mantilla-fashion, coming to a point at the top of the forehead. If she were engaged in conversation her body was usually bent forward with eager, anxious desire to get as close as possible to the person with whom she talked. She had a great dislike to raising her voice, and often became so wholly absorbed in conversation that the announcement of an incoming visitor sometimes failed to attract her attention; but the moment the eyes were [243] lifted up, and recognized a friend, they smiled a rare welcome—sincere, cordial, grave—a welcome that was felt to come straight from the heart, not graduated according to any social distinction. Early in the afternoon, with only one or two guests, the talk was always general and delightful. Mr. Lewes was quite as good in a company of three as in a company of thirty. In fact, he was better, for his verve was not in the least dependent on the number of his audience, and the flow was less interrupted. Conversation was no effort to him; nor was it to her so long as the numbers engaged were not too many, and the topics were interesting enough to sustain discussion. But her talk, I think, was always most enjoyable à deux. It was not produced for effect, nor from the lip, but welled up from a heart and mind intent on the one person with whom she happened to be speaking. She was never weary of giving of her best so far as the wish to give was concerned. In addition to the Sundays "at home" the Priory doors were open to a small circle of very intimate friends on other days of the week. Of evening entertainments there were very few, I think, after 1870. I remember some charming little dinners—never exceeding six persons—and one notable evening when the Poet Laureate read aloud "Maud," "The Northern Farmer," and parts of other poems. It was very interesting on this occasion to see the two most widely known representatives of contemporary English literature sitting side by side. George Eliot would have enjoyed much in her London life if she had been stronger in health, but, with her susceptible organization, the atmosphere oppressed her both physically [244] and mentally. She always rejoiced to escape to the country. The autumn days were beginning to close in now on the beautiful Surrey landscape, not without some dim, half-recognized presage to her anxious mind of impending trouble.

Letter to John Blackwood, 24th Sept. 1878.

I am not inclined to let you rest any longer without asking you to send me some account of yourself, for it is long since I got my last news from Edinburgh. I should like to know that you have continued to gather strength, and that you have all been consequently more and more enjoying your life at Strathtyrum. It is an ugly theory that happiness wants the contrast of illness and anxiety, but I know that Mrs. Blackwood must have a new comfort in seeing you once more with your usual strength.

We have had "a bad time" in point of health, and it is only quite lately that we have both been feeling a little better. The fault is all in our own frames, not in our air or other circumstances; for we like our house and neighborhood better and better. The general testimony and all other arguments are in favor of this district being thoroughly healthy. But we both look very haggard in the midst of our blessings.

Are you not disturbed by yesterday's Indian news? One's hopes for the world's getting a little rest from war are continually checked. Every day, after reading the Times, I feel as if all one's writing were miserably trivial stuff in the presence of this daily history. Do you think there are persons who admire Russia's "mission" in Asia as they did the mission in Europe?

Please write me anything that comes easily to the end of your pen, and make your world seem nearer to me. Good Mr. Simpson, I hope, lets you know that he is prospering in his pursuit of pleasure without [245] work—which seems a strange paradox in association with my idea of him.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 15th Oct. 1878.

The days pass by without my finding time to tell you what I want to tell you—how delighted I was to have a good account of you. But every bright day, and we have had many such, has made me think the more of you, and hope that you were drawing in strength from the clear, sweet air. I miss so much the hope that I used always to have of seeing you in London and talking over everything just as we used to do—in the way that will never exactly come with any one else. How unspeakably the lengthening of memories in common endears our old friends! The new are comparatively foreigners, with whom one's talk is hemmed in by mutual ignorance. The one cannot express, the other cannot divine.

We are intensely happy in our bit of country, as happy as the cloudy aspect of public affairs will allow any one who cares for them to be, with the daily reading of the Times.

A neighbor of ours was reciting to me yesterday some delicious bits of dialogue with a quaint Surrey woman; e.g., "O ma'am, what I have gone through with my husband! He is so uneddicated—he never had a tail-coat in his life!"

Letter to John Blackwood, 23d Nov. 1878, from the Priory.

When Mr. Lewes sent you my MS.[34] the other morning he was in that state of exhilarated activity which often comes with the sense of ease after an attack of illness which had been very painful. In the afternoon he imprudently drove out, and undertook, with his usual eagerness, to get through numerous details of business, over-fatigued himself, and took cold. The [246] effect has been a sad amount of suffering from feverishness and headache, and I have been in deep anxiety, am still very unhappy, and only comforted by Sir James Paget's assurances that the actual trouble will be soon allayed.

I have been telling the patient about your letter and suggestion that he should send a form of slip as advertisement for the Magazine. He says—and the answer seems to have been a matter of premeditation with him—that it will be better not to announce the book in this way at once—"the Americans and Germans will be down on us." I cannot question him further at present, but I have no doubt he has been thinking about the matter, and we must not cross his wish in any way.

I have thought that a good form of advertisement, to save people from disappointment in a book of mine not being a story, would be to print the list of contents, which, with the title, would give all but the very stupid a notion to what form of writing the work belongs. But this is a later consideration. I am glad you were pleased with the opening.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Sunday evening, 24th Nov. 1878.

For the last week I have been in deep trouble. Mr. Lewes has been alarmingly ill. To-day Sir James Paget and Dr. Quain pronounce him in all respects better, and I am for the first time comforted. You will not wonder now at my silence. Thanks for your affectionate remembrances.

Letter to John Blackwood, 25th Nov. 1878.

Mr. Lewes continues sadly ill, and I am absorbed in nursing him. When he wrote about Parliament meeting, he was thinking that it would be called together at the usual time—perhaps February. The book can be deferred without mischief. I wish to add a good deal, but, of course, I can finish nothing now, [247] until Mr. Lewes is better. The doctors pronounced him in every respect better yesterday, and he had a quiet night, but since five o'clock this morning he has had a recurrence of trouble. You can feel for him and me, having so lately known what severe illness is.

Mr. Lewes died on the 28th November, 1878.


MARCH, 1876, TO NOVEMBER, 1878.


Letter to John Blackwood—Visit to Weybridge—"Daniel Deronda"—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Meets Sir Garnet Wolseley—Vivisection—Letter to John Blackwood—Public discussion of "Deronda"—Motto from Walt Whitman—Inscription on the MS. of "Deronda"—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—Thanks for sympathy—Drawbacks to going too much abroad—Mr. Lewes's "Problems"—Letter to J. W. Cross on the effect of her writing—Three-months' trip to Continent—Letter to John Blackwood—Visit to Chambéry and Les Charmettes—Lausanne and Vevey—Ragatz—Return to London—Letter to John Blackwood—Dr. Hermann Adler—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—St. Blasien—Women's work—Visit to Six-Mile Bottom—Meets Turguenieff—Jewish appreciation of "Deronda"—Letter to Mrs. William Smith—Mrs. Ruck—Letter to Mrs. Stowe—Jewish element in "Deronda"—Letter to Miss Hennell—Miss Martineau's "Autobiography," and biography in general—Resignation—Gratitude of Jews for "Deronda"—Purchase of house at Witley, near Godalming—Dr. Hermann Adler's lectures on "Daniel Deronda"—Application to translate "Romola" into Italian—Christmas at Weybridge—Opening of year 1877—Letter to James Sully—The word "meliorism"—Letter to John Blackwood—Illustrations of cheap editions—"Romola"—Letter to William Allingham— Warwickshire dialect—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Harriet Martineau's "Autobiography"—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Holmes and Mrs. Vernon Lushington playing—Letter to Miss Hennell—Mrs. Chapman on Harriet Martineau—Mrs. Stowe and the Byron case—Letter to Professor Kaufmann—Gratitude for his estimate of "Deronda"—Letter to F. Harrison—Sympathy incentive to production—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Miss Thackeray's marriage—Letter to W. Allingham on his poems—Letter to Professor Kaufmann—Translation of his article by Mr. Ferrier—Letter to Mrs. Ponsonby—Reference to Stradivarius—Pity and fairness—Letter to J. W. Cross—Appreciation of Tennyson's poems and dramas—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Improvement in health at Witley—Proposal to write on Shakespeare for "Men of Letters" series—Letter to Miss Hennell—Gain of health and strength at Witley—Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones—Christmas plans—Farewell to Journal and to year 1877—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—State of France—London University opening degrees to women—Reading Green's "History of the English People" and Lecky—The phonograph—Letter to John Blackwood—"Pascal"—"La Bruyère"—Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones on the "Two Grenadiers"—Letter to Mrs. Bray—Meeting with Crown Prince and Princess of Germany at Mr. Goschen's—Visit to Oxford to the Master of Balliol—Letter to John Blackwood—Indian story of Lord Lytton's—Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor—Function the æsthetic not the doctrinal teacher—Letter to John Blackwood—Mr. Lewes's ill-health—Letter to William Blackwood—Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones complaining of health—Letter to J. W. Cross—Mr. Lewes's continued illness—Life at Witley—Effect of receptions at the Priory—Description of receptions—Letter to John Blackwood—Complaining of health—Letter to Mme. Bodichon—Delight in old friends—Letters to John Blackwood—MS. of "Theophrastus Such"—Mr. Lewes's last illness—Postponement of publication of "Theophrastus"—Mr. Lewes's death.



For many weeks after Mr. Lewes's death, George Eliot saw no one except Mr. Charles Lewes, and the very few persons she was obliged to receive on necessary business. She read no letters, and wrote none, but at once began to occupy herself busily with Mr. Lewes's unfinished MSS., in which work Mr. Charles Lewes was able to assist her in the arrangement. The only entry in her diary on the 1st January, 1879, is "Here I and sorrow sit." At the end of two months this desolation had told terribly on her health and spirits; and on the last day of January she was greatly comforted by a visit from Sir James Paget—a friend for whom she had always had the highest and most cordial regard during the many years she had known him. Meantime she had begun to write a few short notes, and she mentions in her journal of 2d January, "A kind letter from Professor Michael Foster, of Cambridge, offering to help me on any physiological point;" and on the 19th January, "Ruminating on the founding of some educational instrumentality as a memorial to be called by his name." There are the following letters in January and February.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 7th Jan. 1879.

I bless you for all your goodness to me, but I am a bruised creature, and shrink even from the tenderest touch. As soon as I feel able to see anybody I will see you. Please give my love to Bessie[35] and thank her [250] for me—I mean, for her sweet letter. I was a long while before I read any letters, but tell her I shall read hers again and again.

Letter to John Blackwood, 13th Jan. 1879.

It was a long while before I read any letters, and as yet I have written none, except such as business required of me. You will believe that this has not been for want of gratitude to all my friends for their goodness to me. I can trust to your understanding of a sorrow which has broken my life. I write now because I ought not to allow any disproportionate expense to be incurred about my printed sheets.

To me, now, the writing seems all trivial stuff, but since he wished it to be printed, and you seem to concur, I will correct the sheets (if you will send me the remainder) gradually as I am able, and they can be struck off and laid by for a future time. I submit this proposition to your judgment, not knowing what may be most expedient for your printing-office.

Thank you for all your kind words.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 22d Jan. 1879.

Sometime, if I live, I shall be able to see you—perhaps sooner than any one else—but not yet. Life seems to get harder instead of easier.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 30th Jan. 1879.

When I said "sometime" I meant still a distant time. I want to live a little time that I may do certain things for his sake. So I try to keep up my strength, and I work as much as I can to save my mind from imbecility. But that is all at present. I can go through anything that is mere business. But what used to be joy is joy no longer, and what is pain is easier because he has not to bear it.

I bless my friends for all their goodness to me. Please say so to all of them that you know, especially Mr. Hall. Tell him I have read his letter again and again.[251]

If you feel prompted to say anything, write it to me.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 4th Feb. 1879.

Do not believe that your love is lost upon me, dear. I bless you for all your goodness to me, and keep every sign of it in my memory.

I have been rather ill lately, but my head is clearer this morning. The world's winter is going, I hope, but my everlasting winter has set in. You know that and will be patient with me.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 6th Feb. 1879.

Bless you for your loving thought. But for all reasons, bodily and mental, I am unable to move. I am entirely occupied with his manuscripts, and must be on this spot among all the books. Then, I am in a very ailing condition of body—cannot count on myself from day to day—and am not fit to undertake any sort of journey. I have never yet been outside the gate. Even if I were otherwise able, I could not bear to go out of sight of the things he used and looked on.

Bless you once more. If I could go away with anybody I could go away with you.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 7th Feb. 1879.

I do need your affection. Every sign of care for me from the beings I respect and love is a help to me. In a week or two I think I shall want to see you. Sometimes, even now, I have a longing, but it is immediately counteracted by a fear. The perpetual mourner—the grief that can never be healed—is innocently enough felt to be wearisome by the rest of the world. And my sense of desolation increases. Each day seems a new beginning—a new acquaintance with grief.

Letter to J. W. Cross, Saturday, 22d Feb. 1879.

If you happen to be at liberty to-morrow, or the following Friday, or to-morrow week, I hope I shall be well enough to see you. Let me know which day.

On Sunday, the 23d February, I saw her for the first time, and there is the following letter next day.


Letter to J. W. Cross, 24th Feb. 1879.

A transient absence of mind yesterday made me speak as if it were possible for me to entertain your thoughtful, kind proposal that I should move to Weybridge for a short time. But I cannot leave this house for the next two months—if for no other reason, I should be chained here by the need of having all the books I want to refer to.

Letter to John Blackwood, 25th Feb. 1879.

Pray do not announce "Theophrastus" in any way. It would be intolerable to my feelings to have a book of my writing brought out for a long while to come. What I wish to do is, to correct the sheets thoroughly, and then have them struck off and laid by till the time of publication comes. One reason which prompted me to set about the proofs—in addition to my scruples about occupying the type—was that I was feeling so ill, I thought there was no time to be lost in getting done everything which no one else would do if I left it undone. But I am getting better, I think; and my doctors say there is nothing the matter with me to urge more haste than the common uncertainty of life urges on us all.

There is a great movement now among the Jews towards colonizing Palestine, and bringing out the resources of the soil. Probably Mr. Oliphant is interested in the work, and will find his experience in the West not without applicability in the East.

It is a satisfaction to you, I hope, that your son is about to be initiated in George Street. I trust he will one day carry on the good traditions of the name "John Blackwood."

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 5th Mch. 1879.

Your letter, which tells me that you are benefiting by the clear, sunny air, is very welcome. Yes, here too the weather is more merciful, and I drive out most days. I am better bodily, but I never feel thoroughly [253] comfortable in that material sense, and I am incredibly thin. As to my mind, I am full of occupation, but the sorrow deepens down instead of diminishing. I mean to go to Witley in a few months, that I may look again on the spots that he enjoyed, and that we enjoyed together, but I cannot tell beforehand whether I shall care to go again afterwards.

Everybody is very kind to me, and by and by I shall begin to see a few intimate friends. I can do or go through anything that is business or duty, but time and strength seem lacking for everything else. You must excuse my weakness, remembering that for nearly twenty-five years I have been used to find my happiness in his. I can find it nowhere else. But we can live and be helpful without happiness, and I have had more than myriads who were and are better fitted for it.

I am really very busy, and have been sadly delayed by want of health. One project I have entered on is to found a studentship, which will be called after his name. I am getting help from experienced men.

Letter to John Blackwood, 5th Mch. 1879.

I send the corrected sheets of "Theophrastus," and shall be much obliged if you will order a complete revise to be sent me before they are struck off. Whenever the book is published (I cannot contemplate its appearing before June, and if that is a bad time it must stand over till the autumn season) I beg you kindly to write for me a notice, to be printed on the fly-leaf, that the MS. was placed in your hands last November, or simply last year.

I think you will enter into my feeling when I say that to create a notion on the part of the public of my having been occupied in writing "Theophrastus" would be repugnant to me. And I shrink from putting myself forward in any way.[254]

I hope you are benefiting by the milder weather. I drive out a little now, but you must be prepared to see me a much changed creature. I think I should hardly know myself.

Journal, 1879.

March 8.—Gertrude[36] and the children came to tea.

March 9.—Mr. Henry Sidgwick came to discuss the plan of the studentship.

March 13.—Professor Michael Foster came to discuss the studentship, and we arrived at a satisfactory clearness as to the conditions. He mentioned as men whom he thought of as suitable trustees, Huxley, Pye Smith, Thiselton Dyer, Francis Balfour, and Henry Sidgwick.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 20th Mch. 1879.

Dear Friend,—When you have time to come to me about six o'clock I shall love to see you.

Journal, 1879.

March 22.—Mrs. Congreve came again. Mrs. Burne-Jones came.

Letter to William Blackwood, 25th Mch. 1879.

I am so dissatisfied with "Theophrastus" on reading the revise that I have proposed to suppress it in this original form, and regenerate it whenever—if ever—I recover the power to do so. You see the cruel weather has travelled after you. It makes one feel every grievance more grievously in some respects, though to me the sunshine is in one sense sadder.

Journal, 1879.

March 30.—Mr. Bowen (now Lord Justice Bowen) came, Mr. Spencer, and J.

Letter to John Blackwood, 5th April, 1879.

After weighing what you have said, I agree to the publication of "Theophrastus" in May. If you had at all suspected that the book would injure my influence, you would not have wished me to give it forth in its present form, and in the uncertainty of one's inner and outer life it is not well to depend on future capabilities. [255] There are some things in it which I want to get said, and if the book turned out to be effective in proportion to my other things, the form would lend itself to a "second series"—supposing I lived and kept my faculties.

As to the price for the right of translating, you will judge. If you will kindly undertake these negotiations for me, I shall be thankful. And pray remember that I don't want the book to be translated, so that it will be well to wait for the application, and to ask a sufficient sum to put the publisher on his guard as to the selection of a translator. But, of course, this little book cannot be paid for according to the difficulty of translation.

You see, I have been so used to have all trouble spared me that I am ready to cast it on any willing shoulders. But I am obliged now to think of business in many ways.

I am so glad to know that Mrs. Blackwood has the comfort of a good report about you from the doctors. Perhaps it may seem to you the wrong order of sympathy to be glad for your sake in the second place.

Journal, 1879.

April 8.—Mrs. Stuart came.

Mrs. Stuart was a devoted friend whose acquaintance had been formed some years before through the presentation of some beautiful wood-carving which she had executed as an offering to George Eliot.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 8th April, 1879.

Dear Friends,—Will you come to see me some day? I am always in from my drive and at liberty by half-past four. Please do not say to any one that I am receiving visitors generally. Though I have been so long without making any sign, my heart has been continually moved with gratitude towards you. [256]

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 8th April, 1879.

Your letter was very welcome this morning, for I do not like to be very long without having some picture of you, and your words of affection are always sweet.

The studentship I mention is to supply an income to a young man who is qualified and eager to carry on physiological research, and would not otherwise have the means of doing so. Mr. H. Sidgwick, Michael Foster, and other men of kindred mind are helping me in settling the scheme. I have been determined in my choice of the studentship by the idea of what would be a sort of prolongation of his life. That there should always, in consequence of his having lived, be a young man working in the way he would have liked to work, is a memorial of him that comes nearest my feeling. It is to be at Cambridge to begin with, and we thought at first of affiliating it to the university; but now the notion is that it will be well to keep it free, so that the trustees may move it where and when they will. But the scheme is not yet drafted.

I am going to bring out one of "The Problems" in a separate volume at the beginning of May, and am now correcting the proofs.

My going to Witley is an experiment. I don't know how I shall bear being there, but I hope there will be nothing to hinder my having you there if you will undertake the troublous journey for my sake.

Letter to John Blackwood, 9th April, 1879.

I enclose the proof of title-page and motto. Whether the motto (which is singularly apt and good) should be on the title-page or fly-leaf I leave you to judge. Certainly, everybody who does not read Latin will be offended by its claiming notice, and will consider that only the deepest-dyed pedantry could have found the motive for it. But I will not leave it out altogether.

I have had such various letters from time to time, [257] asking me to reprint or write essays, that, perhaps, some of the public will not be disappointed that the volume is not a story. But that must be as it may; and if you think the acceptance dubious, it is much the better plan not to stereotype.

What energy there is in Mr. Kinglake in spite of the somewhat shattered health that his Wesen gives one the impression of! Among incidents of war that one can dwell on with anything like gladness, that account of the rescue of the colors at Isandlana is memorable, is it not?

I go out every day, drive beyond the ranks of hideous houses in the Kilburn outskirts, and get to lanes where I can walk, in perfect privacy, among the fields and budding hedgerows.

I hope Mr. Julian Sturgis will take care of his writing and do something lasting. He seems to me to have a strain above the common in him; and he is not writing for his bread, or even his butter. I don't know why I say this just now, except that I had it in my mind to say long ago, and it has just come upper-most as I was thinking of the Magazine.

Letter to Professor Kaufmann, 17th April, 1879.

Your kind letter has touched me very deeply. I confess that my mind had, more than once, gone out to you as one from whom I should like to have some sign of sympathy with my loss. But you were rightly inspired in waiting till now, for during many weeks I was unable even to listen to the letters which my generous friends were continually sending me. Now, at last, I am eagerly interested in every communication that springs out of an acquaintance with my husband and his works.

I thank you for telling me about the Hungarian translation of his "History of Philosophy;" but what [258] would I not have given if the volumes could have come, even only a few days, before his death! For his mind was perfectly clear, and he would have felt some joy in that sign of his work being effective.

I do not know whether you will enter into the comfort I feel that he never knew he was dying, and fell gently asleep after ten days of illness, in which the suffering was comparatively mild.

One of the last things he did at his desk was to despatch a manuscript of mine to the publishers. The book (not a story, and not bulky) is to appear near the end of May, and, as it contains some words I wanted to say about the Jews, I will order a copy to be sent to you.

I hope that your labors have gone on uninterruptedly for the benefit of others, in spite of public troubles. The aspect of affairs with us is grievous—industry languishing, and the best part of our nation indignant at our having been betrayed into an unjustifiable war in South Africa.

I have been occupied in editing my husband's MSS., so far as they are left in sufficient completeness to be prepared for publication without the obtrusion of another mind instead of his. A brief volume on "The Study of Psychology" will appear immediately, and a further volume of psychological studies will follow in the autumn. But his work was cut short while he still thought of it as the happy occupation of far-stretching months. Once more let me thank you for remembering me in my sorrow.

Letter to J. W. Cross, 22d April, 1879.

I am in dreadful need of your counsel. Pray come to me when you can—morning, afternoon, or evening.

From this time forward I saw George Eliot constantly. My mother had died in the beginning of the [259] previous December, a week after Mr. Lewes; and, as my life had been very much bound up with hers, I was trying to find some fresh interest in taking up a new pursuit. Knowing very little Italian, I began Dante's "Inferno" with Carlyle's translation. The first time I saw George Eliot afterwards, she asked me what I was doing, and, when I told her, exclaimed, "Oh, I must read that with you." And so it was. In the following twelve months we read through the "Inferno" and the "Purgatorio" together; not in a dilettante way, but with minute and careful examination of the construction of every sentence. The prodigious stimulus of such a teacher (cotanto maestro) made the reading a real labor of love. Her sympathetic delight in stimulating my newly awakened enthusiasm for Dante did something to distract her mind from sorrowful memories. The divine poet took us into a new world. It was a renovation of life. At the end of May I induced her to play on the piano at Witley for the first time; and she played regularly after that whenever I was there, which was generally once or twice a week, as I was living at Weybridge, within easy distance.

Besides Dante, we read at this time a great many of Sainte-Beuve's "Causeries," and much of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth. But I am anticipating. We will return to the correspondence in its order.

Letter to John Blackwood, 22d April, 1879.

When I shall be able to get to Witley is altogether uncertain. The cold winds make one less hungry for the country, but still it will be a relief to me, in some respects, to get away from town. I am much stronger than I was, and am again finding interest in this wonderful [260] life of ours. But I am obliged to keep my doors closed against all but the few until I go away. You, however, I shall hope to see. I am founding a studentship of Physiology, to be called "The George Henry Lewes Studentship." It will be placed, in the first instance, at Cambridge, where there is the best physiological school in the kingdom. But the trustees (with my consent during my life) will have the power of moving it where they judge best. This idea, which I early conceived, has been a great stay to me. But I have plenty to think of, plenty of creatures depending on me, to make my time seem of some value. And there are so many in the world who have to live without any great enjoyment.

Journal, 1879.

April 26.—Mr. and Mrs. Hall came.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 3d May, 1879.

If you can come to me next week for a parting word, will you try to learn beforehand whether and when your husband can give me half an hour at the end of his working-day? I should like to see him before I go, which I hope to do soon after the 13th.

Journal, 1879.

May 6.—Mr. and Mrs. Call, Eleanor and Florence (Cross) came.

May 8.—Mr. Burne-Jones came.

May 10.—Edith Simcox and Mr. Pigott came.

May 13.—Dr. Andrew Clark came and gave me important suggestions about the studentship.

May 21.—Saw Mr. Anthony Trollope.

May 22.—Came down to Witley—lovely mild day.

Letter to James Sully, 28th May, 1879.

Mr. Lewes always wrote the dramatic criticisms in the Leader, and for a year or two he occasionally wrote such criticisms in the Pall Mall. Of the latter, the chief were reprinted in the little book on "Actors, and the Art of Acting." What was written in the [261] Fortnightly (1865-66) is marked by signature. The most characteristic contributions to the Cornhill (1864-65) were "The Mental Condition of Babies," "Dangers and Delights of Tobacco," "Was Nero a Monster?" "Shakespeare in France," and "Miseries of a Dramatic Author."

But after 1866 his contributions to any periodical were very scanty—confined to a few articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, one on "The Reign of Law," in the Fortnightly, and the series on Darwin, now incorporated in "The Physical Basis of Mind." After these, his sole contributions were an article on Dickens (1872), two on "Spiritualism" and "Mesmerism" (1876), and one on "The Dread and Dislike of Science" (1878).

Charles, I think, mentioned to you my desire that you should do me the valuable service of looking over the proofs of the remaining volume of "Problems," and you were so generous as to express your willingness to undertake that labor. The printing will not begin till after the 16th—Dr. Michael Foster, who has also kindly offered to help me in the same way, not being sufficiently at leisure till after that date.

I have been rather ill again lately, but am hoping to benefit by the country quietude. You, too, I am sorry to hear, are not over strong. This will make your loan of mind and eyesight all the more appreciated by me.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 3d June, 1879.

Your letter, full of details—just the sort of letter I like to have—has been among my comforts in these last damp, chill days. The first week I was not well, and had a troublesome attack of pain, but I am better, and try to make life interesting by always having something to do.

I am wishing Margaret many happy returns of this [262] day, and am making a picture of you all keeping the little fête. A young birthday, when the young creature is promising, is really a happy time; one can hope reasonably; and the elder ones may be content that gladness has passed onward from them into newer vessels. I should like to see the blue-eyed maid with her bangles on her arms.

Please give my love to all and sundry who make any sign of love for me; and any amount you like is ready for you to draw upon.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 10th June, 1879.

I am greatly obliged to you for sending me the paper you are to read to-day; and I appreciate it the more highly because your diligence is in contrast with the general sluggishness of readers about any but idle reading. It is melancholy enough that to most of our polite readers the social factor in psychology would be a dull subject; for it is certainly no conceit of ours which pronounces it to be the supremely interesting element in the thinking of our time.

I confess the word factor has always been distasteful to me as the name for the grandest of forces. If it were only mathematical I should not mind, but it has many other associated flavors which spoil it for me.

Once more—ever more—thanks.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 10th June, 1879.

You will like to know that Mr. Frederic Harrison has sent me a brief paper, which is to be read to-day at the Metaphysical Society, on the "Social Factor in Psychology," opening with a quotation from the "Study of Psychology," and marking throughout his high appreciation of your father's work. Also the Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, kindly sent (with his initials only) to Trübner four errata which he had found in reading the "Study of Psychology." Trübner did not know who was the kind corrector, and very properly [263] sent the paper to me, offering to have the corrections made on the plates if I wished it. I said, "By all means," and have written to thank the Rector. What a blessing to find a man who really reads a book!

I have received the enclosed letter, with other papers (about country lodgings at Sevenoaks for poor children). Will you look out a single copy of as many of my books (poems included) as you can find, and send them in a parcel, saying that they come from me for the Free Library? Please not to mind this trouble, as it is for the impecunious readers. (You know I am nothing if not "sesquipedalian" and scientific; and a word of five syllables will do for both qualities.)

I wish you could see Coquelin in Tabourin. He is a wonderful actor, when he gets the right part for him. He has a penetrating personality that one cannot be indifferent to, though possibly it may be unpleasant to some people.

Letter to William Blackwood, 12th June, 1879.

I was beginning, with my usual apprehensiveness, to fear that you had no good news to tell me, since I did not hear from you, and I should have gone on fearing till to-morrow morning if I had not happened to drive to Godalming and ask for the second post. We only get one post a day at the benighted Witley, so that if you want me to get a letter quickly it must be posted early at Edinburgh.

I am heartily glad to know that the invalid is going on well, and I trust that the softer air we are having now will help him forward.

"Theophrastus" seems to be really welcomed by the public. Mr. Blackwood will be amused to hear that one gentleman told Charles, or implied, that "Theophrastus" was a higher order of book, and more difficult to write than a novel. Wait long enough, and [264] every form of opinion will turn up. However, poor "Theophrastus" is certainly not composed of "chips" any more than my other books.

Another amusing bit of news is, that the other day Mrs. Pattison sent me an extract from the livret of the Paris Salon, describing a picture painted by a French artist from "The Lifted Veil," and representing the moment when the resuscitated woman, fixing her eyes on her mistress, accuses her of having poisoned her husband. I call this amusing—I ought rather to have said typical of the relation my books generally have with the French mind.

Thank you for sending me the list of orders. It does interest me to see the various country demands. I hope the movement will continue to cheer us all, and you are sure to let me know everything that is pleasant, so I do not need to ask for that kindness.

The weather is decidedly warmer, and Tuesday was a perfectly glorious day. But rain and storm have never let us rest long together. I am not very bright, and am ready to interpret everything in the saddest sense, but I have no definite ailment.

My best regards to the convalescent, who, I have no doubt, will write to me when he is able to do so. But I am only one of many who will be glad to hear from him.

Letter from Madame Bodichon to Miss Bonham-Carter, 12th June, 1879.

"I spent an hour with Marian (5th June). She was more delightful than I can say, and left me in good spirits for her—though she is wretchedly thin, and looks, in her long, loose, black dress, like the black shadow of herself. She said she had so much to do that she must keep well—'the world was so intensely interesting.' She said she would come next year to see me. We both agreed in the [265] great love we had for life. In fact, I think she will do more for us than ever."

Letter to John Blackwood, 20th June, 1879.

I have been having my turn of illness of rather a sharp kind. Yesterday, when your letter came, I was in more acute pain than I have ever known in my life before, but before the morning was over I was sufficiently relieved to read your pleasant news. I am writing in bed, but am in that most keenly conscious ease which comes after unusual suffering. The way in which the public takes "Theophrastus" is really a comfort to me. I have had some letters, not of the complimentary, but of the grateful kind, which are an encouragement to believe in the use of writing. But you would be screamingly amused with one, twenty-three pages long (from an Edinburgh man, by-the-bye), who has not read the book, but has read of it, and thinks that his own case is still more worthy of presentation than Merman's.

I think a valuable series (or couple of volumes) might be made up from "Maga" of articles written hot by travellers and military men, and not otherwise republished—chronicles and descriptions by eye-witnesses—which might be material for historians.

What a comfort that the Afghan war is concluded! But on the back of it comes the black dog of Indian finance, which means, alas! a great deal of hardship to poor Hindûs. Let me hear more news of you before long.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 29th June, 1879.

Your description of the effects you feel from the restless, tormenting winds would serve well to represent my experience too. It seems something incredible written in my memory that when I was a little girl I loved the wind—used to like to walk about when it was blowing great guns. And now the wind is to me [266] what it was to early peoples—a demon-god, cruelly demanding all sorts of human sacrifices. Thank you, dear, for caring whether I have any human angels to guard me. None are permanently here except my servants, but Sir James Paget has been down to see me, I have a very comfortable country practitioner to watch over me from day to day, and there is a devoted friend who is backward and forward continually to see that I lack nothing.

It is a satisfaction to me that you felt the need for "Debasing the Moral Currency" to be written. I was determined to do it, though it might make me a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to all the comic tribe.

Do not rate my illness too high in the scale of mortal misery. I am prone to make much of my ailments, and am among the worst at enduring pain.

Letter to John Blackwood, 29th June, 1879.

Thank you for sending me the pretty little book.[37] I am deeply touched by the account of its origin, and I remember well everything you said to me of Mr. Brown in old days when he was still with you. I had only cut a very little way into the volume when a friend came and carried it off, but my eyes had already been arrested by some remarks on the character of Harold Transome, which seemed to me more penetrating and finely felt than almost anything I have read in the way of printed comment on my own writing. When my friend brings back the volume I shall read it reverentially, and most probably with a sense of being usefully admonished. For praise and sympathy arouse much more self-suspicion and sense of shortcoming than all the blame and depreciation of all the Pepins.


I am better, and I hope on the way to complete recovery, but I am still at some distance from that goal. Perhaps if the winds would give one some rest from their tormenting importunity, both you and I should get on faster.

I am looking forward to reading the "Recollections of Ekowe" in "Maga," which came to me yesterday, with its list of my own doings and misdoings on the cover.

Does not this Zulu war seem to you a horribly bad business?

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 30th June, 1879.

Sir Henry Maine has sent me the one letter that has rejoiced my heart about the "Study of Psychology." He says: "In this branch of Mr. Lewes's studies I am almost as one of the ignorant, but I think I have understood every sentence in the book, and I believe I have gained great knowledge from it. It has been the most satisfactory piece of work I have done for a long time." I have written to tell him that he has rescued me from my scepticism as to any one's reading a serious book except the author or editor.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 2d July, 1879.

The sight of your handwriting on the pamphlet sent me urges me to do the sooner what I should have already done but for a rather sharp illness, which has kept me chiefly in bed for nearly a fortnight, and from which I am not yet quite free.

I enclose a copy of Michael Foster's draft of conditions for the studentship, which I put into the lawyer's hands some ten or twelve days ago, and which is now come to me drawn up in legal form. You said it would interest you to see the draft, and I have been bearing this in mind, but have not been able to go to the desk where the copy lay.

I hope to hear that you have been going on well [268] despite the cruel, restless winds and sad intermittence of sunshine. On the 12th I am going to have two daughters-in-law, five grandchildren, and servant for a week—if I can get well enough, as I have good hope now that I shall. The strawberries will be ripe then, and as I don't eat any myself it would be dolorous not to be able to have the children, and see them enjoy the juicy blessing.

Letter to John Blackwood, 16th July, 1879.

I was beginning to want some news of you, and was almost ready to ask for it. It is the more welcome for having had time to ripen into a decidedly good report of your condition. About myself I have a very poor story to tell, being now in the fifth week of a troublesome illness, in which, like you, I have been partly fed on "poisonous decoctions." To-day, however, happens to show a considerable improvement in my symptoms, and I have been walking in the warmer air with more ease than hitherto. Driving I have not been able to manage for some time, the motion of the carriage shaking me too much. The best of care has been taken of me. I have an excellent country doctor (Mr. Parsons of Godalming) who watches me daily; and Sir James Paget and Dr. Andrew Clark have been down to add their supervision. I begin to think that if I can avoid any evil condition, such as a chill that would bring on a relapse, I may soon be pretty well again. The point to be achieved is to stop the wasting of my not too solid flesh.

I am glad to hear that the third edition of "Theophrastus" has had so lively a movement. If the remainder should be sold off I think it would be well just to print a small number of copies to carry on, and avoid bringing out a cheaper edition too soon after people have been paying for the expensive one. [269]

I have been always able to write my letters and read my proofs, usually in bed before the fatigue of dressing, but the rest of my time has been very unprofitable—spent chiefly in pain and languor. I am feeling easy now, and you will well understand that after undergoing pain this ease is opening paradise. Invalids must be excused for being eloquent about themselves.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 22d July, 1879.

I feel a perhaps too selfish need to tell you that things have gone ill with me since I last wrote to you. Why do I want to let you know this not agreeable news about myself? Chiefly because I want you to be quite clear that if I do not write to say, "When can you come to me?" it is not from indifference, but from misfortune of another sort. Meanwhile it will do me good to have little items of news from you, when you can find half an hour for the kind deed of writing me a letter. What helps me most is to be told things about others, and your letters are just of the sort I like to have.

I am just now in one of my easier hours, and the demon wind has abated. He seems to enter into my pains with hideous rejoicing.

Letter to James Sully, 7th Aug. 1879.

Thank you for your kind note. There are to be more than as many proofs as you have already had, for which I must crave the valuable aid of your reading.

You will understand all the better how much comfort it is to me to have your help as well as Professor Foster's, when I tell you that for the last eight weeks I have been seriously out of health, and have often been suffering much pain—a state which I imagine you know by experience to heighten all real anxieties, and usually to create unreal.

It cheers me to be told by you that you think the [270] volume interesting. In reading the MS. again and again I had got into a state of tremor about it which deprived me of judgment—just as if it were writing of my own, which I could not trust myself to pronounce upon.

I hope that your own health, and Mrs. Sully's too, will have been benefited by your change from south to north.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 11th Aug. 1879.

I think that I am really getting better, and shall have to stay among the minority in this world a little longer than I had expected.

Will you send me word how long you shall be at liberty, and whether you would think it worth while to come down to me one morning and stay till the afternoon of the following day? Your letter is delightful to me. Several spiritual kisses for it.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 19th Aug. 1879.

Thank you for your sweet affection. I have had rather a trying illness, which lasted, without great relief, for nearly eight weeks. But I hope that I am now out of it—that is, so far established that I may go on without a relapse. The cold weather was against me, as it was and is against much more important matters. The days of warmth and sunlight which have now and then blessed us have been my best medicine, though I acknowledge the benefit of pepsin and steel, and many other drugs. The gray skies and recurring rain are peculiarly dispiriting to me, and one seems to feel their influence all the more for the wide, beautiful view of field and hill which they sadden and half conceal. In town one thinks less of the sky.

If you are ever writing to our dear Mrs. William Smith do give my love to her, and tell her I am very grateful to her for the letter she wrote me with the postmark Ventnor upon it. With her usual delicacy [271] of feeling she did not send her address, so that I could not write in return.

Letter to William Blackwood, 3d Sept. 1879.

I am much obliged to you for writing me your letter of pleasant news.

It is wonderful how "Theophrastus" goes on selling in these bad times, and I have only to hope in addition that the buyers will be the better for it. Apparently we shall get through this last edition before Christmas, and then perhaps you will think of adding the volume to the Cabinet Edition. I am especially rejoiced to hear that your uncle is better again, and I trust that Strathtyrum is sharing our sunshine, which will be the best cure for him as for me. I am getting strong, and also am gaining flesh on my moderate scale. It really makes a difference to one's spirits to think that the harvest may now possibly be got in without utter ruin to the produce and unhappy producers. But this year will certainly prove a serious epoch, and initiate many changes in relation to farming. I fear, from what I have read, that the rich Lothians will have to be called compassionately the poor Lothians. By the way, if you happen to want any translation done from the French, and have not just the right person to do it, I think I can recommend a Miss Bradley Jenkins, of 50 Cornwall Road, Wesbourne Park, as one who has an unusually competent knowledge of French. We sat side by side on the same form translating Miss Edgeworth into French when we were girls.

I have not seen her for many years, but I know that she has been engaged in a high order of teaching, and I have lately heard from her that she is anxious to get work of the kind in question. She already spoke French well when we were pupils together, and she has since been an unintermitting student. [272]

I wonder, talking of translators, how the young Mr. Ferrier is going on, who translated Kaufmann's pamphlet on "Deronda." What Mr. Blackwood told me of him interested me about his future.

Oblige us all by not falling into another accident when the next hunting season comes.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 3d Sept. 1879.

Before I received your letter the other day I was intending to write to you to ask whether, now that I am stronger and the fine weather shows some signs of permanence, you feel any revival of the inclination to come and see me for a couple of days. I hardly like to propose your taking the journey, now that you are not being brought near me by other visits—for the railway from you to us is, I think, rather tiresome. But if your inclination really lies towards coming you will be affectionately welcomed.

About the sea-side I am hopeless. The latter part of October is likely to be too cold for me to move about without risk of chills; and I hope to be back in town before the end of the month. I am not very fond of the sea-side, and this year it is likely to be crowded with people who have been hindered by the bad weather from going earlier. I prefer the Surrey hills and the security from draughts in one's own home. The one attraction of a coast place to me is a great breadth of sand to pace on when it is in its fresh firmness after the fall of the tide. But the sea itself is melancholy to me, only a little less so under warm sunlight, with plenty of fishing-smacks changing their shadows. All this is to let you know why I do not yield to the attraction of being with you, where we could chat as much or as little as we liked. I feel very much your affectionateness in wishing to have me near you.[273]

Write me word soon whether you feel able to come as far as this for my sake.

Letter to James Sully, 10th Sept. 1879.

I have read the article[38] with very grateful feelings. I think that he would himself have regarded it as a generally just estimate. And I am much obliged to you for sending it to me in proof.

Your selection of subjects for remark, and the remarks themselves, are in accordance with my feeling to a comforting extent; and I shall always remain your debtor for writing the article.

I trust you will not be forced to omit anything about his scientific and philosophical work, because that is the part of his life's labor which he most valued.

Perhaps you a little underrate the (original) effect of his "Life of Goethe in Germany." It was received with enthusiasm, and an immense number of copies, in both the English and German form, have been sold in Germany since its appearance in 1854.

I wish you were allowed to put your name to the article.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 17th Sept. 1879.

I am getting strong now after a long spell of medical discipline. All these long months I have been occupied with my husband's manuscripts: also with the foundation of a Physiological Studentship, which is my monument to his memory, and which is now all settled, as you may perhaps have seen by advertisements.[39] [274] But I am not yet through the proof-reading of the final volume of "Problems of Life and Mind," which will contain the last sheets he ever wrote.

I hear very good accounts of Madame Bodichon, who is coming to me for a couple of days on the 29th.

You are wonderful for life and energy, in spite of your delicate looks. May you have all the strength you need for your sympathetic tasks!

Letter to James Sully, 7th Oct. 1879.

I have not yet thanked you—and I do so now very gratefully—for the help you have given me in my sad and anxious task. Your eyes have been a most precious aid, not only as a matter of fact, but as a ground of confidence. For I am not at all a good proof-reader, and have a thorough distrust of myself.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 18th Oct. 1879.

I cannot wish not to have been cheered by your triple letter, even though I have caused you to rise earlier in the morning, and to feel a disproportionate remorse. "Maggior difetto men vergogna lava," as says Virgil to the blushing Dante. And you have given me the fuller measure because I had to wait a little.

Your legend of "Fair Women" interests me very much. I feel a citizen of the world again, knowing all [275] the news. But the core of good news in your letter is that your husband is well again, and again happy in his work. Your collapse is what I feared for you; and you must call the getting change of air and scene—I was going to say "a duty," but are you one of those wonderful beings who find everything easier under that name? But at least one prefers doing a hard duty to grimacing with a pretence of pleasure in things that are no pleasure.

I am greatly comforted this morning by the fact that the (apparently) right man is found for the George Henry Lewes Studentship—an ardent worker, who could not have carried on his pursuit without this help. I know you are not unmindful of what touches me deeply.

Go on your visit, dear, and come back well—then show yourself without unnecessary delay to your loving friend.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, Saturday, 20th Oct. 1879.

I have had a delightful bit of news from Dr. Foster this morning. He had mentioned to me before that there was an Edinburgh student whom he had in his mind as the right one to elect. This morning he writes: "The trustees meet to-morrow to receive my nomination. I have chosen Dr. Charles Roy, an Edinburgh man, and Scotchman—not one of my own pupils. He is, I think, the most promising—by far the most promising—of our young physiologists, putting aside those who do not need the pecuniary assistance of the studentship. And the help comes to him just when it is most needed—he is in full swing of work, and was casting about for some means of supporting himself which would least interfere with his work, when I called his attention to the studentship. I feel myself very gratified that I can, at the very outset, [276] recommend just the man, as it appears to me, for the post."

This is a thing your father would have chosen as a result of his life.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, Tuesday, 27th Oct. 1879.

I have just had some news that grieves me. Mr. Blackwood is dangerously ill, and I fear, from Mr. William's letter, that there is little hope of recovery. He will be a heavy loss to me. He has been bound up with what I most cared for in my life for more than twenty years; and his good qualities have made many things easy to me that, without him, would often have been difficult.[40]

I wrote to Mr. Trübner to tell him that the printing of the "Problems" being finished, I should be glad if he would arrange with you about the conditions of publication. Bear in mind your father's wish that the volumes should not be made dearer than necessary.

I am going to Weybridge on Friday, and I intend to be at the Priory by Saturday before dusk. But it is just possible I may be detained till Monday morning. So if you have any good occupation for Sunday you had better call on your way home on Monday.

Letter to Miss Eleanor Cross, 29th Oct. 1879.

Your affectionate note would quite have determined me to do what, when your brother kindly proposed it, raised a certain longing in me. I thought that I should like to see you all in the remembered home again. But I have had a little check in health, and I am feeling so depressed that I shrink from making any engagement which involves others.

A visitor to-day and my own languor threatens to throw me backward in my arrangements for leaving, [277] and I have a sense of impossibility about everything that, under other conditions, would be a pleasure. I am afraid lest a fit of sadness should make me an oppression to you all; and my conclusion this morning is that I must give up the few hours' happiness of feeling your family love around me as I used to do, and simply go straight up to town with my servants.

But if Friday morning brings me better hopes I will telegraph to you, since you allow me to wait till the eleventh hour. If you receive no telegram you will understand that I am still too downhearted to venture on a visit even to those who are among the best-loved of my friends. In that case you must all make me amends for my loss by coming to see me in the old place in town.

Came to Weybridge on 31st October, and returned to the Priory on 1st November.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 8th Nov. 1879.

I came here just a week ago, and I had a superstition that you would come to me yesterday. But I used no enchantments—and so you didn't come.

Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1879, from the Priory.

I am very grateful to you for your kind letter. News about you all had been much desired by me; but I have now so many business letters to write that I am apt to defer such as are not absolutely necessary. The careful index is a sign of your effective industry, and I have no doubt that it will be a great help to yourself as well as to your readers. One very often needs an index to one's own writing. My chief objects are quite completed now. The Dr. Roy appointed to the studentship is held by competent persons to be the most hopeful of our young physiologists: and there is a volume of 501 pages (the last) of "Problems of Life and Mind" ready to appear next month. I am quite recovered from the ailment [278] which made me good for little in the summer, and indeed am stronger than I ever expected to be again. People are very good to me, and I am exceptionally blessed in many ways; but more blessed are the dead who rest from their labors, and have not to dread a barren, useless survival.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 6th Dec. 1879, from the Priory.

I am very well, dear kind friend, all things considered. One cannot help getting occasional chills and headaches in this hard, wintry time.

Oh, yes, I read the Times with great interest, and am much concerned to know what my contemporaries are doing. My time is very fully occupied, for I have now to write a great many letters, such as used to be written for me, and I would willingly spend the time thus taken up in another sort of reading and writing.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 5th Jan. 1880.

Thank you a thousand times, my dear friend, for your tender New Year's greeting and inquiries. I have passed well from "under the saws and harrows" of the severe cold, and am better, both in apparent organic soundness and in strength for all occupation, than I once thought was possible for me.

Our dear Barbara is painting in water colors again from her window—just as of old. I know you will be glad to hear of this. And I am now seeing many other friends, who interest me and bring me reports of their several worlds. The great public calamities of the past year have helped to quiet one's murmuring spirit in relation to private sorrows, and the prospect for the future is not yet very bright. One thinks of mothers like Mrs. Ruck, whose best-loved sons are in Afghanistan. But we must live as much as we can for human joy, dwelling on sorrow and pain only so far as the consciousness of it may help us in striving to remedy them.[279]

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 19th Jan. 1880.

Life has seemed worse without my glimpses of you. And now I have not the amends of thinking that you are out of our Egyptian darkness and getting health in the country. I must drive over to ask about you as soon as I can.

As the year went on, George Eliot began to see all her old friends again. But her life was nevertheless a life of heart-loneliness. Accustomed as she had been for so many years to solitude à deux, the want of close companionship continued to be very bitterly felt. She was in the habit of going with me very frequently to the National Gallery, and to other exhibitions of pictures, to the British Museum sculptures, and to South Kensington. This constant association engrossed me completely, and was a new interest to her. A bond of mutual dependence had been formed between us. On the 28th March she came down to Weybridge and stayed till the 30th; and on the 9th April it was finally decided that our marriage should take place as soon, and as privately, as might be found practicable.

Letter to Miss Eleanor Cross, 13th April, 1880.

You can hardly think how sweet the name sister is to me, that I have not been called by for so many, many years.

Without your tenderness I do not believe it would have been possible for me to accept this wonderful renewal of my life. Nothing less than the prospect of being loved and welcomed by you all could have sustained me. But now I cherish the thought that the family life will be the richer and not the poorer through your brother's great gift of love to me.

Yet I quail a little in facing what has to be gone through—the hurting of many whom I care for. You [280] are doing everything you can to help me, and I am full of gratitude to you all for his sake as well as my own. The springs of affection are reopened in me, and it will make me better to be among you—more loving and trustful.

I valued Florence's little visit very much. You and she will come again—will you not?—to your sister.

Letter to Frederic Harrison, 19th April, 1880.

I have found the spot in "The Prelude" where the passage I mentioned occurs. It is in book viii., "The Retrospect," towards the end:

"The human nature unto which I felt
That I belonged, and reverenced with love,
Was not a punctual presence, but a spirit
Diffused through time and space, with aid derived
Of evidence from monuments, erect,
Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest
In earth, the widely scattered wreck sublime
Of vanished nations."

The bit of brickwork in the rock is

"With aid derived from evidence."

I think you would find much to suit your purpose in "The Prelude," such as—

"There is
One great society alone on earth:
The noble Living and the noble Dead."

Except for travelling, and for popular distribution, I prefer Moxon's one-volumed edition of Wordsworth to any selection. No selection gives you the perfect gems to be found in single lines, or in half a dozen lines which are to be found in the "dull" poems.

I am sorry Matthew Arnold has not included the sonnet beginning—

"I griev'd for Buonaparté with a vain
And an unthinking grief—"

and which has these precious lines,

"'Tis not in battles that from youth we train
The governor who must be wise and good,
And temper with the sternness of the brain
Thoughts motherly, and meek as womanhood.
Wisdom doth live with children round her knees."

Has he the magnificent sonnet on Toussaint l'Ouverture? I don't know where there is anything finer than the last eight lines of it.

Please don't acknowledge this note, else you will neutralize my pleasure in sending it by making me feel that I have given you trouble.

Letter to the Hon. Lady Lytton, 24th April, 1880.

The beautiful photograph has reached me safely, and I am very grateful to you for your kindness in sending it to me. In comparing it with the photograph which you gave me seven or eight years ago I see the effect of a saddening experience which the years must bring to us all, but, to my feeling, the face is the more endearing because of that effect.

You have been very often in my thoughts, because I have associated you with public affairs, and have imagined sympathetically how they must have affected your private life. I am sure that this momentous experience in India has been a hard discipline both for you and for Lord Lytton. I can imagine he has often been sick at heart with the near vision, which his post forces on him, of human meanness and rancor. You, too, must have gathered some melancholy knowledge of that sort, which has perhaps changed a little the curves of the mouth and the glance of the eyes since those Vienna days, when the delightful M. de Villers helped to make the hours pleasant to us.

I saw the photographs of your daughters, which gave me an idea how fast the dramatic authoress has developed [282] physically as well as mentally. When I first saw her at Vienna she was the prettiest little rosebud.

Mrs. Strachey called the other day when I was out, and among other reasons for my being sorry not to have seen her, was the having missed some authentic news about your probable movements. What happens to you will always have interest for me, since I have long been, with sincere regard, yours most truly.

On the 24th April George Eliot came down to Weybridge, and stayed till the 26th.

Letter to James Sully, 26th April, 1880.

I am deeply obliged to you for the care with which you have treated the final volume of "The Problems" in the Academy, which you have kindly sent me. I think you could hardly have written more effectively towards exciting an interest in the work in the minds of the comparatively few who really care for the study of psychology. You have added one more to the obligations which will make me always yours gratefully.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 5th May, 1880.

I have something to tell you which will doubtless be a great surprise to you; but since I have found that other friends, less acquainted with me and my life than you are, have given me their sympathy, I think that I can count on yours. I am going to do what not very long ago I should myself have pronounced impossible for me, and therefore I should not wonder at any one else who found my action incomprehensible. By the time you receive this letter I shall (so far as the future can be matter of assertion) have been married to Mr. J. W. Cross, who, you know, is a friend of years, a friend much loved and trusted by Mr. Lewes, and who, now that I am alone, sees his happiness in the dedication of his life to me. This change in my position will make no change in my care for Mr. Lewes's family, and in the ultimate disposition of my property. [283] Mr. Cross has a sufficient fortune of his own. We are going abroad for a few months, and I shall not return to live at this house. Mr. Cross has taken the lease of a house, No. 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where we shall spend the winter and early spring, making Witley our summer home.

I indulge the hope that you will some day look at the river from the windows of our Chelsea house, which is rather quaint and picturesque.

Please tell Bessie[41] for me, with my love to her. I cannot write to more than two or three persons.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 5th May, 1880.

A great, momentous change is going to take place in my life. My indisposition last week and several other subsequent circumstances have hindered me from communicating it to you, and the time has been but short since the decision was come to. But with your permission Charles will call on you and tell you what he can on Saturday.

Yours and Emily's ever, with unchanging love.

Journal, 1880.

May 6.—Married this day at 10.15 to John Walter Cross, at St. George's, Hanover Square. Present, Charles, who gave me away, Mr. and Mrs. Druce, Mr. Hall, William, Mary, Eleanor, and Florence Cross. We went back to the Priory, where we signed our wills. Then we started for Dover and arrived there a little after five o'clock.

Letter to Miss Eleanor Cross, 9th May, 1880.

Your letter was a sweet greeting to us on our arrival here yesterday.

We had a millennial cabin on the deck of the Calais-Douvres, and floated over the strait as easily as the saints float upward to heaven (in the pictures). At Amiens we were very comfortably housed, and paid [284] two enraptured visits, evening and morning, to the cathedral. I was delighted with J.'s delight in it. And we read our dear old cantos of the "Inferno" that we were reading a year ago, declining afterwards on "Eugénie Grandet." The nice woman who waited on us made herself very memorable to me by her sketch of her own life. She went to England when she was nineteen as a lady's maid—had been much ennuyée de sa mère, detested les plaisirs, liked only her regular every-day work and la paix.

Here we have a very fair appartement, and plenty of sunlight, au premier. Before dinner we walked up to the Arc de l'Étoile and back again, enjoying the lovely greenth and blossoms of the horse-chestnuts, which are in their first glory, innocent of dust or of one withered petal. This morning at twelve o'clock we are going to the Russian church, where J. has never been, and where I hope we shall hear the wonderful intoning and singing as I heard it years ago.

This is the chronicle of our happy married life, three days long—all its happiness conscious of a dear background in those who are loving us at Weybridge, at Thornhill, and at Ranby.

You are all inwoven into the pattern of my thoughts, which would have a sad lack without you. I like to go over again in imagination all the scene in the church and in the vestry, and to feel every loving look from the eyes of those who were rejoicing for us. Besides Professor Sellar's letter, which touched J. with grateful surprise, we have had one to him from Mr. Frederic Harrison, saying everything affectionate, and two very finely felt letters from Edith Simcox—one to him enclosing the one to me. Certainly, she has a rare generosity and elevation which find their easy [285] channel in writing. My love to Henry and to the gentle Berthe,[42] who was an invisible presence at our wedding.

I think I must thank Florence, too, for her letter to J.; for we accept to the full the principle of "what is mine is thine" on each side. What most comforted him this morning was a letter from Albert Druce about the Chelsea house. His usual exclamation over anything from Albert is that his brother-in-law is the most satisfactory of men!

Write us word about everything, and consider yourselves all very much loved and spiritually petted by your loving sister.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 21st May, 1880, from Grenoble.

This place is so magnificently situated, in a smiling valley, with the Isère flowing through it, and surrounded by grand and various lines of mountains, and we were so enraptured by our expedition yesterday to the Grande Chartreuse that we congratulate ourselves greatly on our choice of route. I think it unlikely that we shall want to wander beyond the second week in July. We shall begin to long for home just when the rest of the London world are longing for travel. We are seeing nature in her happiest moment now—the foliage on all the tremendous heights, the soft slopes, and the richly clad valleys on the way to the Chartreuse is all fresh and tender, shone through by a sunlight which cherishes and does not burn us. I had but one regret in seeing the sublime beauty of the Grande Chartreuse. It was that the Pater had not seen it. I would still give up my own life willingly if he could have the happiness instead of me. But marriage has seemed to restore me to my old self. I was getting [286] hard, and if I had decided differently, I think I should have become very selfish. To feel daily the loveliness of a nature close to me, and to feel grateful for it, is the fountain of tenderness and strength to endure.

Glorious weather always, and I am very well—quite amazingly able to go through fatigue.

Letter to Miss Florence Cross, 25th May, 1880.

Our life since we wrote to you has been a chapter of delights—Grenoble—Grande Chartreuse—Chambéry—paradisiacal walk to Les Charmettes—roses gathered in Jean Jacques' garden—Mont Cenis Tunnel and emergence into Italian sunshine. Milan, comfortable appartement, delicious privacy, and great minds condescending to relax themselves! We got here yesterday, and of course our first walk was to the post, where we found your delightful budget and other letters, which we took to a café in the grand galleria and read at our ease to the accompaniment of tea.

Two of my letters yesterday touched me very gratefully. One was from "Brother Jimmy"—the prettiest letter possible. The other letter that moved me was one from my own brother. Then J. had a graceful letter of congratulation from Mr. Henry James, who is still at Florence. I think you did not send that letter of Mr. Edmund Gurney's which you mention. I am fond of seeing the letters which put my friends in an amiable light for my imagination. And now that I have had that charming letter from my new brother in America, I feel that my family initiation is complete. No woman was ever more sweetly received by brothers and sisters than I have been; and it is a happy, new longing in my life that I may return into their bosoms some of the gladness they have poured into mine.

I have been uninterruptedly well, and feel quite strong with all sorts of strength except strong-mindedness. [287] We are going to hear the music in the Duomo at eleven, and after that we intend to pay our first visit to the Brera gallery. It is our present plan to stay here for some days, and we enjoy the thought of a little stationary life such as we have not had since we left Paris. We often talk of our sisters, oftener think of them. You are our children, you know.

Letter to Isaac P. Evans, 26th May, 1880.

Your letter was forwarded to me here, and it was a great joy to me to have your kind words of sympathy, for our long silence has never broken the affection for you which began when we were little ones. My husband, too, was much pleased to read your letter. I have known his family for eleven years, and they have received me among them very lovingly. The only point to be regretted in our marriage is that I am much older than he; but his affection has made him choose this lot of caring for me rather than any other of the various lots open to him.

Emily Clarke has lately sent me rather a sad account of Sarah's[43] health. I trust that it is now better, for I think it is her lungs that chiefly trouble her, and summer may act beneficently on them. Please give my love to her, and tell her that I like the assurance of her share in the good wishes you send me.

I have often heard of Frederick[44] through the admiration of those who have heard him preach; and it has been a happy thought to me that you and Sarah must feel it a great comfort to have him as well as Walter settled near you.

Edith is the only one of your children whom I have seen since they have been grown up, and I thought her a noble-looking woman.


We are going to remain abroad until some time in July, and shall then return to the Heights, Witley, Surrey. Our home in London will be 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, looking on a very picturesque bit of the river.

I hope that your own health is quite good now, and that you are able to enjoy the active life which I know you are fond of. Always your affectionate sister.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 28th May, 1880.

Many thanks for your delightful letter, which came to me yesterday, with a loving though brief letter from Mrs. Congreve to keep it company in making the day agreeable.

We arrived here on Monday, and have been induced by a nice quiet apartment and pleasant attendance to carry out our plan of resting here and deliberately seeing what is to be seen in this cheerful, prosperous city. I am glad to find that the Luini pictures come up to my remembrance, and that J. is much impressed by his introduction to them. I continue remarkably well, and am every day surprising myself by the amount of walking, standing, and looking that I can go through. To-morrow or the next day we intend to go on to Verona, then, after a sufficient pause to enjoy that glorious place, we shall move on to Padua and Venice, where it will be best for you to send anything you may have to send. I like to see the letters. They make one realize the fact of one's home and little world there amid the dreaminess of foreign travel. We take our meals in our own apartment and see nothing of our fellow-guests in the hotel—only hear their British and American voices when they air themselves in the cortile after their dinner.

The weather has hitherto been delicious, not excessively warm, always with a pleasant movement in [289] the air; but this morning there is a decided advance in heat, and we shall both have our theory of great heat being the best thing for us well tested in the next month.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 29th May and 1st June, 1880, from Verona.

The change I make in the date of this letter is a sign of the difficulty you well know that one finds in writing all the letters one wants to write while travelling. Ever since Charles forwarded to me your dear letter while I was in Paris I have been meaning to write to you. That letter was doubly sweet to me because it was written before you received mine, intended to inform you of my marriage before it appeared in the newspapers. Charles says that my friends are chiefly hurt because I did not tell them of the approaching change in my life. But I really did not finally, absolutely, decide—I was in a state of doubt and struggle—until only a fortnight before the event took place, so that at last everything was done in the utmost haste. However, there were four or five friends, of whom you were one, to whom I was resolved to write, so that they should at least get my letter on the morning of the 6th.

I had more than once said to Mr. Cross that you were that one of my friends who required the least explanation on the subject—who would spontaneously understand our marriage. But Charles sends me word that my friends in general are very sympathetic, and I should like to mention to you that Bessie[45] is one whose very kind words he has sent to me, for you may have an opportunity of giving my love to her, and telling her that it is very sweet to me to feel that her affection is constant to me in this as it was in other crises of my [290] life. I wish, since you can no longer come in and out among us as you used to do, that you already knew my husband better. His family welcome me with the uttermost tenderness. All this is wonderful blessing falling to me beyond my share, after I had thought that my life was ended, and that, so to speak, my coffin was ready for me in the next room. Deep down below there is a hidden river of sadness, but this must always be with those who have lived long—and I am able to enjoy my newly reopened life. I shall be a better, more loving creature than I could have been in solitude. To be constantly, lovingly grateful for the gift of a perfect love is the best illumination of one's mind to all the possible good there may be in store for man on this troublous little planet.

We leave Verona to-day, and stay a little at Padua on our way to Venice. Hitherto we have had delightful weather, and just the temperature we rejoice in. We are both fond of warmth, and could bear more heat than we have the prospect of at present.

Yesterday we had a drive on the skirting heights of Verona, and saw the vast fertile plain around, with the Euganean hills, blue in the distance, and the Apennines just dimly visible on the clear margin of the horizon. I am always made happier by seeing well-cultivated land.

We came into Italy by way of Grenoble (seeing the Grande Chartreuse), Chambéry, and the Mont Cenis Tunnel; since then we have been staying at Milan and enjoying the Luini frescoes and a few other great things there. The great things are always by comparison few, and there is much everywhere one would like to help seeing, after it has once served to give one a notion of historical progression. [291]

We shall stay at Venice for ten days or a fortnight; so if you have a scribe, or would write yourself, to tell me that all is going on well with you, the letter would not, as the Scotch say, "go amissing."

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 9th June, 1880, from Venice.

We both enjoyed reading your letter on the morning after our arrival at this enchanting city, where the glorious light, with comparative stillness and total absence of dust, makes a paradise much more desirable than that painted by Tintoretto on the wall of the Consiglio Maggiore. Nothing but the advent of mosquitoes would make it easy for us to tear ourselves away from this place, where every prospect pleases, but also where one is obliged to admit that man is somewhat vile. I am sadly disappointed in the aspect of the Venetian populace. Even physically they look less endowed than I thought them when we were here under the Austrian dominion. We have hardly seen a sweet or noble woman's face since we arrived; but the men are not quite so ill-looking as the women. The singing here (by itinerant performers in gondolas) is disgraceful to Venice and to Italy. Coarse voices, much out of tune, make one shudder when they strike suddenly under the window.

Our days here are passed quite deliciously. We see a few beautiful pictures or other objects of interest, and dwell on them sufficiently every morning, not hurrying ourselves to do much; and afterwards we have a giro in our gondola, enjoying the air and the sight of marvellous Venice from various points of view and under various aspects. Hitherto we have had no heat, only warmth, with a light breeze. To-day, for the first time, one thinks that violent exercise must be terribly trying for our red-skinned fellow-mortals at work on the gondolas and the barges. But for us it [292] is only pleasant to find the air warm enough for sitting out in the evening. We shall not soon run away from Venice unless some plague—e.g., mosquitoes—should arise to drive us. We edify ourselves with what Ruskin has written about Venice, in an agreeable pamphlet shape, using his knowledge gratefully, and shutting our ears to his wrathful innuendoes against the whole modern world. And we are now nearly at the end of Alfieri's autobiography, which is a deeply interesting study of character.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 10th June, 1880.

It may well seem incredible to you, for it is hardly credible to myself, that while I have been longing to write to you ever since I received your dear letter, I have not found the time to satisfy my longing. Perhaps you are more able than most people to conceive the difficulty of getting a clear half-hour between the business of travelling and the attention to little details of packing and toilet, over and above the companionship of talk and reading. Certainly I have thought of you all the more, but you have not known that, and I have lost my claim to hear about you—a use and wont which I would not willingly part with.

I wonder whether you have imagined—I believe that you are quick to imagine for the benefit of others—all the reasons why it was left at last to Charles to tell you of the great, once undreamed-of change in my life. The momentous decision, in fact, was not made till scarcely more than a fortnight before my marriage; and even if opportunity had lent itself to my confiding everything to you, I think I could hardly have done it at a time when your presence filled me rather with a sense of your and Emily's trouble[46] than with my own [293] affairs. Perhaps Charles will have told you that the marriage deprives no one of any good I felt bound to render before—it only gives me a more strenuous position, in which I cannot sink into the self-absorption and laziness I was in danger of before. The whole history is something like a miracle-legend. But instead of any former affection being displaced in my mind, I seem to have recovered the loving sympathy that I was in danger of losing. I mean, that I had been conscious of a certain drying-up of tenderness in me, and that now the spring seems to have risen again. Who could take your place within me or make me amends for the loss of you? And yet I should not take it bitterly if you felt some alienation from me. Such alienation is very natural where a friend does not fulfil expectations of long standing.

We have already been ten days at Venice, but we hope to remain as long again, not fearing the heat, which has hitherto been only a false alarm in the minds of English travellers. If you could find time to send me word how you all are—yourself, Dr. Congreve after his holiday, and Emily, with all her cares about removal—a letter sent to the Poste Restante here would reach me, even if we had left before the next ten days were over. We shall hardly be at Witley before the middle of July: but the sense of neighborhood to you at Witley is sadly ended now.

We thought too little of the heat, and rather laughed at English people's dread of the sun. But the mode of life at Venice has its peculiar dangers. It is one thing to enjoy heat when leading an active life, getting plenty of exercise in riding or rowing in the evenings; it is another thing to spend all one's days in a gondola—a delicious, dreamy existence—going [294] from one church to another—from palaces to picture-galleries—sight-seeing of the most exhaustively interesting kind—traversing constantly the piccoli rei, which are nothing more than drains, and with bedroom-windows always open on the great drain of the Grand Canal. The effect of this continual bad air, and the complete and sudden deprivation of all bodily exercise, made me thoroughly ill. As soon as I could be moved we left Venice, on the 23d of June, and went to Innspruck, where we stayed for a week, and in the change to the pure, sweet, mountain air I soon regained strength.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 7th July, 1880, from Stuttgart.

I was made very glad by Gertrude's letter, which assured me that Witley had been enjoyed by you and the little ones. We stayed six days at Innspruck, finding it more and more beautiful under the sunshine which had been wanting to it during our first two days. Then we went on to Munich, and yesterday we arrived here, as a temporary resting-place on our way to Wildbad, which, we hope, will put the finishing-touch to J.'s recovery of his usual health.

I wish I had been able to let you know in time that you could have remained a little longer at Witley, as I think we shall hardly be at home before the 20th if we find Wildbad what we want. Your Mutter is marvellously well and strong. It seems more natural to her to have anxiety than to be free from it. Let us hope that she will not run down like a jelly-fish now that her anxiety is over.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 13th July, 1880, from Wildbad.

I received your welcome letter yesterday morning, and felt inclined to answer it the next minute. J. is quite well again, but is inclined to linger a little in the sweet air of the Schwarzwald, which comes to one on [295] gently stirred wings, laden with the scent of the pine forests. We mean to drive from here to Baden, which is within easy distance.

Yesterday we sallied forth for a walk over the mountain, to a place where we could rest and lunch, returning in the afternoon. The sky was brilliant. But in half an hour the clouds gathered and threatened a storm. We were prudent enough to turn back, and by the time we were in the hotel again the thunder was rolling and the rain pouring down. This continued till about two o'clock, and then again the sky became clear. I never saw so incalculable a state of weather as we have in this valley. One quarter of an hour the blue sky is only flecked by lightest cirrus clouds, the next it is almost hidden by dark rain clouds. But we are going to start on our promised expedition this morning, the sunshine flattering us that it is quite confirmed.

I think you had better address your next letter Poste Restante, Strasburg, as I am uncertain how long we shall rest at Baden.

Left Wildbad on the 17th July, and had a delightful drive through the Black Forest by Herrenalb to Baden, and thence by Strasburg, Metz, Luxemburg, and Brussels, arriving at Witley on Monday the 26th of July.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 1st Aug. 1880.

We arrived here in all safety last Monday, and if I had not had your welcome little note this morning I think I should soon have written to you without any such extra stimulus.

Mr. Cross had a sharp but brief attack at Venice, due to the unsanitary influences of that wondrous city in the later weeks of June. We stayed a little too long there, with a continuous sirocco blowing, and bad [296] smells under the windows of the hotel; and these conditions found him a little below par from long protracted anxiety before our marriage. But ever since we left Venice (on the 23d of June) he has been getting strong again, and we have enjoyed a leisurely journey through Germany in constant warmth and sunshine, save for an occasional thunderstorm. The climate in this beloved country of ours is a sad exchange, and makes one think of a second bad harvest, with all its consequences. Still, it is a delight to be at home and enjoy perfect stillness, after the noisiness of foreign bells and foreign voices indoors and out. It would be very pretty to pay you a visit next April, if we are all alive, and I think Mr. Cross would like it very much. He sends you, hoping you will accept them, his best remembrances, which have been kept up by our often talking about you. I have been amazingly well through all the exertion of our travels, and in the latter half of the time have done a great deal of walking.

Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 2d Aug. 1880.

How sweet of you to write me a little welcome as soon as you knew that I was at home again.

Yes, we are both well now, and glad to be at home again, though the change of climate is not of the exhilarating sort. One is so sorry for all the holiday-makers, whose best enjoyment of these three days would have been in the clear air and sunshine.

Do not reproach me for not telling you of my marriage beforehand. It is difficult to speak of what surprises ourselves, and the decision was sudden, though not the friendship which led to the decision.

My heart thoroughly responds to your remembrance of our long—our thirty-years' relation to each other. Let me tell you this once what I have said to others—that [297] I value you as one of the purest-minded, gentlest-hearted women I have ever known, and where such a feeling exists, friendship can live without much aid from sight.

We shall probably not be in town again till the beginning of November. Our address then will be 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where we shall have an outlook on the river and meadows beyond. Just now we have the prospect of going on family visits to married sisters, which prevents us from feeling quite settled.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 12th Aug. 1880.

I expected your letter, and expected, too, just the sort of letter I have received, telling me everything delightfully. I can follow you everywhere in your journeying except to Ober Wesel. I hope you will have enjoyed St. Blasien and some of the walks there consecrated by the beloved Pater's footsteps. We reversed your drive and went to Freiburg, so that I can enter into your enjoyment of the Höllenthal. I am glad that your weather has been temperate. Here we have now had four sunny and really hot days, and this morning promises to be the fifth. That is consolatory as to the harvest, and is very agreeable as to our private life. The last two evenings we have walked in the garden after eight o'clock—the first time by starlight, the second under a vapory sky, with the red moon setting. The air was perfectly still and warm, and I felt no need of extra clothing.

Our life has had no more important events than calls from neighbors and our calls in return. To-morrow we pay our visit to the Druces at Sevenoaks, where, you may remember, Mr. Druce has built a beautiful house. At the beginning of September we are to visit Mr. and Mrs. Otter at Ranby, and after that we shall [298] go to Six-Mile Bottom for a day or two. Then our wanderings will be over.

I went to the Priory the other day, and found a treatise on Blood Pressure, by Dr. Roy, which he had sent me there, and which he has published as the "George Henry Lewes Student." I imagine that he has come to pursue his studies in England, as he intended to do. Delbeuf's article on the last volume of the "Problems" (in the Belgian Athenæum) is very nicely done. He has read the book.

I am pretty well, but find myself more languid than I was when abroad. I think the cause is perhaps the moisture of the climate. There is something languorous in this climate, or, rather, in its effects. J. gets a little better every day, and so each day is more enjoyable.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 9th Sept. 1880.

We have just come home after paying family visits in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, else I should have answered your letter earlier. The former one reached me in Venice, when I was in great trouble on account of Mr. Cross's illness. I had had reason to believe that my letters, ordered to be posted on the 5th of May, had not been delivered; so I asked Charles to inquire about the letter I wrote to you—not because it demanded an answer, but because I wished you to know that I had written.

I am so glad to know that you have been enjoying our brief English summer. The good harvest makes the country everywhere cheerful, and we have been in great, even districts where the fields, full of sheaves or studded with ricks, stretch wide as a prairie. Now, we hope not to leave this place again till November, when we intend to go to Chelsea for the winter and earliest spring.

I almost envy you the opportunity of seeing Wombwell's [299] Menagerie. I suppose I got more delight out of that itinerant institution when I was nine or ten years old than I have ever got out of the Zoological Gardens. The smells and the sawdust mingled themselves with my rapture. Everything was good.

It was very dear of you to write to me before you finished your holiday. My love attends you all.

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 14th Sept. 1880.

Your letter this morning is a welcome assurance about you. We have been away in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, paying visits to the Otters and the Halls. The weather, which is now broken, was glorious through all our wandering, which we made very interesting by pausing to see Ely, Peterborough, and Lincoln cathedrals. The Otters have a very pretty, happy household. He is a country gentleman now, acting as a magistrate, and glancing towards Parliament. But he keeps up his reading, and is delightful to talk to. Emily looks very pretty in her matronly position, with three little children. The Halls, too, are very pleasant to behold in their home life. He has done wonders in building nice cottages and schools, and sinking wells where they were wanted, and founding a co-operative store—and, in general, doing whatever opportunity allows towards slowly improving this confused world. We saw (at Six-Mile Bottom) Mr. and Mrs. Sidgwick. Perhaps you know that they have had, and have, the admirable public spirit to let their house and arrange to live for a year in the new Newnham House, in order to facilitate matters for the double institution.

We are very well. Mr. Cross gets stronger and brighter every day. We often mention you, because you are associated with so many of my memories.

Our only bugbear—it is a very little one—is the having [300] to make preliminary arrangements towards settling ourselves in the new house (4 Cheyne Walk). It is a quaint house; and a Mr. Armitage of Manchester, of whom you may have heard, has been superintending the decoration and furnishing, but not to the exclusion of old things, which we must carry and stow, especially wallings of books. I am become so lazy that I shrink from all such practical work.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 23d Sept. 1880.

I have been and am suffering under an attack of a comparatively mild sort, but I expect to be well in two or three days, and am just going to drive to Godalming to meet my husband. Hence I write this hurriedly. We should like to see you and Gertrude from Saturday to Monday some week next month if it would be pleasant to you.

This attack was a recurrence of the renal disorder of the previous year. On the 29th September we went for ten days to Brighton as the most accessible place for a bracing change. The first effects of the sea breezes were encouraging, but the improvement was not maintained. Shortly after our return to Witley Dr. Andrew Clark,[47] "the beloved physician," came down to consult with Mr. Parsons of Godalming—on 22d October. From that time there was gradual but slow improvement, and, during November, a decided recovery of strength. But an English autumn was not favorable to the invalid. Her sensibility to climatic influences was extreme. It will have been noticed in the preceding letters how constantly change of air and scene was required. I had never seen my wife out of England, previous to our marriage, except [301] the first time at Rome, when she was suffering. My general impression, therefore, had been that her health was always very low, and that she was almost constantly ailing. Moreover, I had been with her very frequently during her long, severe illness at Witley in 1879. I was the more surprised, after our marriage, to find that from the day she set her foot on Continental soil till the day she returned to Witley she was never ill—never even unwell. She began at once to look many years younger. During the eleven years of our acquaintance I had never seen her so strong in health. The greater dryness and lightness of the atmosphere seemed to have a magical effect. At Paris we spent our mornings at the Louvre or the Luxembourg, looking at pictures or sculpture, or seeing other sights—always fatiguing work. In the afternoons we took long walks in the Bois, and very often went to the theatre in the evening. Reading and writing filled in all the interstices of time; yet there was no consciousness of fatigue. And we had the same experience at all the places we stayed at in Italy. On our way home she was able to take a great deal of walking exercise at Wildbad and Baden. Decrease of physical strength coincided exactly with the time of our return to the damper climate of England. The specific form of illness did not declare itself until two months later, but her health was never again the same as it had been on the Continent. Towards the middle of October she was obliged to keep her bed, but without restriction as to amount of reading and talking, which she was always able to enjoy, except in moments of acute pain.

During her illness I read aloud, among other [302] books, Comte's "Discours Préliminaire," translated by Dr. Bridges. This volume was one of her especial favorites, and she delighted in making me acquainted with it. For all Comte's writing she had a feeling of high admiration, intense interest, and very deep sympathy. I do not think I ever heard her speak of any writer with a more grateful sense of obligation for enlightenment. Her great debt to him was always thankfully acknowledged. But the appreciation was thoroughly selective, so far as I was able to judge. Parts of his teaching were accepted and other parts rejected. Her attitude towards him, as the founder of a new religion, may be gathered from the references and allusions in the foregoing correspondence, and from the fact that for many years, and up to the time of her death, she subscribed to the Comtist Fund, but never, so far as I am aware, more directly associated herself with the members of the Positivist Church. It was a limited adherence.

We generally began our reading at Witley with some chapters of the Bible, which was a very precious and sacred book to her, not only from early associations, but also from the profound conviction of its importance in the development of the religious life of man. She particularly enjoyed reading aloud some of the finest chapters of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and St. Paul's Epistles. With a naturally rich, deep voice, rendered completely flexible by constant practice; with the keenest perception of the requirements of emphasis, and with the most subtile modulations of tone, her reading threw a glamour over indifferent writing, and gave [303] to the greatest writing fresh meanings and beauty. The Bible and our elder English poets best suited the organ-like tones of her voice, which required, for their full effect, a certain solemnity and majesty of rhythm. Her reading of Milton was especially fine; and I shall never forget four great lines of the "Samson Agonistes" to which it did perfect justice—

"But what more oft in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty."

The delighted conviction of justice in the thought—the sense of perfect accord between thought, language, and rhythm—stimulated the voice of the reader to find the exactly right tone. Such reading requires for its perfection a rare union of intellectual, moral, and physical qualities. It cannot be imitated. It is an art, like singing—a personal possession that dies with the possessor, and leaves nothing behind except a memory. Immediately before her illness we had read, together, the first part of "Faust." Reading the poem in the original with such an interpreter was the opening of a new world to me. Nothing in all literature moved her more than the pathetic situation and the whole character of Gretchen. It touched her more than anything in Shakespeare. During the time that we were reading the "Faust" we were also constantly reading, together, Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth: some of Scott's novels and Lamb's essays too, in which she greatly delighted. For graver study we read through Professor Sayce's "Introduction to the Science of Language." Philology [304] was a subject in which she was most deeply interested; and this was my first experience of what seemed to me a limitless persistency in application. I had noticed the persistency before, while looking at pictures, or while hearing her play difficult music; for it was characteristic of her nature that she took just as great pains to play her very best to a single unlearned listener as most performers would do to a room full of critical cognoscenti. Professor Sayce's book was the first which we had read together requiring very sustained attention ("The Divina Commedia" we had read in very short bits at a time), and it revealed to me more clearly the depth of George Eliot's mental concentration. Continuous thought did not fatigue her. She could keep her mind on the stretch hour after hour: the body might give way, but the brain remained unwearied.

Her memory held securely her great stores of reading. Even of light books her recollections were always crisp, definite, and vivid. On our way home from Venice, after my illness, we were reading French novels of Cherbuliez, Alphonse Daudet, Gustave Droz, George Sand. Most of these books she had read years before, and I was astonished to find what clear-cut, accurate impressions had been retained, not only of all the principal characters, but also of all the subsidiary personages—even their names were generally remembered. But, on the other hand, her verbal memory was not always to be depended on. She never could trust herself to write a quotation without verifying it.

In foreign languages George Eliot had an experience more unusual among women than among men. With a complete literary and scholarly [305] knowledge of French, German, Italian, and Spanish, she spoke all four languages with difficulty, though accurately and grammatically; but the mimetic power of catching intonation and accent was wanting. Greek and Latin she could read with thorough delight to herself; and Hebrew was a favorite study to the end of her life. In her younger days, especially at Geneva, inspired by Professor de la Rive's lectures, she had been greatly interested in mathematical studies. At one time she applied herself heartily and with keen enjoyment to geometry, and she thought that she might have attained to some excellence in that branch if she had been able to pursue it. In later days the map of the heavens lay constantly on her table at Witley, and she longed for deeper astronomical knowledge. She had a passion for the stars; and one of the things to which we looked forward on returning to London was a possible visit to Greenwich Observatory, as she had never looked through a great telescope of the first class. Her knowledge of wild-flowers gave a fresh interest each day to our walks in the Surrey lanes, as every hedgerow is full of wonders—to "those who know;" but she would, I think, have disclaimed for herself real botanical knowledge, except of an elementary sort.

This wide and varied culture was accompanied with an unaffected distrust of her own knowledge, with the sense of how little she really knew, compared with what it was possible for her to have known, in the world. Her standard was always abnormally high—it was the standard of an expert; and she believed in the aphorism that to [306] know any subject well we must know the details of it.

During our short married life our time was so much divided between travelling and illness that George Eliot wrote very little, so that I have but slight personal experience of how the creative effort affected her. But she told me that, in all that she considered her best writing, there was a "not herself," which took possession of her, and that she felt her own personality to be merely the instrument through which this spirit, as it were, was acting. Particularly she dwelt on this in regard to the scene in "Middlemarch" between Dorothea and Rosamond, saying that, although she always knew they had, sooner or later, to come together, she kept the idea resolutely out of her mind until Dorothea was in Rosamond's drawing-room. Then, abandoning herself to the inspiration of the moment, she wrote the whole scene exactly as it stands, without alteration or erasure, in an intense state of excitement and agitation, feeling herself entirely possessed by the feelings of the two women. Of all the characters she had attempted she found Rosamond's the most difficult to sustain. With this sense of "possession" it is easy to imagine what the cost to the author must have been of writing books, each of which has its tragedy. We have seen the suffering alluded to in the letters on the "Mill on the Floss," "Felix Holt," and "Romola."

For those who would know the length and the breadth of George Eliot's intellectual capacity she has written her books. Here I am only putting down some of my own personal impressions or [307] recollections, which must be taken for what they are worth. In doing this I should like to dwell on the catholicity of her judgment. Singularly free from the spirit of detraction, either in respect of her contemporaries or her predecessors, she was always anxious to see the best and the most noble qualities of human beings or of books, in cases where she felt some general sympathy notwithstanding particular disagreements. And it was this wide sympathy, this understanding of so many points of view, that gained for her the passionate devotion not only of personal friends, but also of literary admirers, from the most widely sundered sections of society. Probably few people have ever received so many intimate confidences from confidants of such diverse habits of thought.

This many-sidedness, however, makes it exceedingly difficult to ascertain, either from her books or from the closest personal intimacy, what her exact relation was to any existing religious creed or to any political party. Yet George Eliot's was emphatically a religious mind. My own impression is that her whole soul was so imbued with, and her imagination was so fired by, the scientific spirit of the age—by the constant rapid development of ideas in the Western world—that she could not conceive that there was, as yet, any religious formula sufficient nor any known political system likely to be final. She had great hope for the future, in the improvement of human nature by the gradual development of the affections and the sympathetic emotions, and "by the slow, stupendous teaching of the world's events," rather than by means of legislative enactments. Party measures [308] and party men afforded her no great interest. Representative government, by numerical majorities, did not appeal to her as the last word of political wisdom. Generally speaking, she had little patience with talk about practical politics, which seemed to her under our present system to be too often very unpractically handled by ignorant amateurs. The amateur was always a "stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence." Her wrath used often to be roused, in late years, by the increased bitterness in the language of parties, and by the growing habit of attributing, for political effect, the most shameful motives to distinguished statesmen.

She was keenly anxious to redress injustices to women, and to raise their general status in the community. This, she thought, could best be effected by women improving their work—ceasing to be amateurs. But it was one of the most distinctly marked traits in her character that she particularly disliked everything generally associated with the idea of a "masculine woman." She was, and as a woman she wished to be, above all things, feminine—"so delicate with her needle, and an admirable musician." She was proud, too, of being an excellent housekeeper—an excellence attained from knowing how things ought to be done, from her early training, and from an inborn habit of extreme orderliness. Nothing offended her more than the idea that because a woman had exceptional intellectual powers therefore it was right that she should absolve herself, or be absolved, from her ordinary household duties.

It will have been seen from the letters that George Eliot was deeply interested in the higher [309] education of women, and that she was among the earliest contributors to Girton College. After meeting Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, in September, 1880, when they had gone to reside at the new hall of Newnham College for a time, she was anxious to be associated in that work also, but she did not live to carry out the plan herself. The danger she was alive to in the system of collegiate education was the possible weakening of the bonds of family affection and family duties. In her view, the family life holds the roots of all that is best in our mortal lot; and she always felt that it is far too ruthlessly sacrificed in the case of English men by their public school and university education, and that much more is such a result to be deprecated in the case of women. But, the absolute good being unattainable in our mixed condition of things, those women especially who are obliged to earn their own living must do their best with the opportunities at their command, as "they cannot live with posterity," when a more perfect system may prevail. Therefore, George Eliot wished God-speed to the women's colleges. It was often in her mind and on her lips that the only worthy end of all learning, of all science, of all life, in fact, is, that human beings should love one another better. Culture merely for culture's sake can never be anything but a sapless root, capable of producing at best a shrivelled branch.

In her general attitude towards life George Eliot was neither optimist nor pessimist. She held to the middle term, which she invented for herself, of "meliorist." She was cheered by the hope and by the belief in gradual improvement of the mass; for [310] in her view each individual must find the better part of happiness in helping another. She often thought it wisest not to raise too ambitious an ideal, especially for young people, but to impress on ordinary natures the immense possibilities of making a small home circle brighter and better. Few are born to do the great work of the world, but all are born to this. And to the natures capable of the larger effort the field of usefulness will constantly widen.

In her personal bearing George Eliot was seldom moved by the hurry which mars all dignity in action. Her commanding brows and deep, penetrating eyes were seconded by the sweet, restrained, impressive speech, which claimed something like an awed attention from strangers. But to those very near to her there was another side of her nature, scarcely suspected by outside friends and acquaintances. No one could be more capable of enjoying and of communicating genuine, loving, hearty, uncontrollable laughter. It was a deep-seated wish, expressed in the poem of "Agatha"—"I would have young things merry." And I remember, many years ago, at the time of our first acquaintance, how deeply it pained her when, in reply to a direct question, I was obliged to admit that, with all my admiration for her books, I found them, on the whole, profoundly sad. But sadness was certainly not the note of her intimate converse. For she had the distinctively feminine qualities which lend a rhythm to the movement of life. The quick sympathy that understands without words; the capacity for creating a complete atmosphere of loving interest; the detachment from outside influences; [311] the delight in everything worthy—even the smallest thing—for its own sake; the readiness to receive as well as to give impressions; the disciplined mental habit which can hold in check and conquer the natural egoism of a massive, powerful personality; the versatility of mind; the varied accomplishments—these are characteristics to be found more highly developed among gifted women than among gifted men. Add to these the crowning gift of genius, and, in such companionship, we may possess the world without belonging to it.

The November days had come now—cold and clear. My wife was able again to enjoy the daily drives and walks on which she was very dependent for health. The letters continue.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 3d Nov. 1880.

Since I wrote to you I have been much more ill, and have only, during the last few days, begun to feel myself recovering strength. But I have been cared for with something much better than angelic tenderness. The fine, clear air, if it lasts, will induce us to linger in the country; and, indeed, I am not yet quite fit to move; for, though I appear to be quite cured of my main ailment, half my bodily self has vanished. We are having deliciously clear days here, and I get out for short drives and walks. I really have nothing to complain of now except a little lack of strength. I play on the piano again, and walk with perfect ease. There is a long chapter about myself!

Letter to Madame Bodichon, 7th Nov. 1880.

Three weeks ago I had a rather troublesome attack, but I am getting well now, though still reduced and comparatively weak. We shall probably linger here till near the end of the month, for the autumnal landscape is very beautiful, and I am not yet quite fit for the exertion of moving. It is a comfort to think that [312] you can be very snug through the winter in your nice house. What a pity we are not within an easy driving distance from you!

Mr. Hall is here to-day. He gave a lecture on Leclaire, the house-painter in Paris who initiated an excellent plan of co-operative sharing for his workmen. It has been printed, and when I have another copy I will send it you. Leclaire is mentioned by John S. Mill in the notes to his "Political Economy," but had not been otherwise taken much notice of. Still, you may know all about him.

Letter to Mrs. Burne-Jones, 18th Nov. 1880.

Thanks for your loving remembrance of me. We have been kept in the country by two sufficient causes: I have been ill, and the house at Cheyne Walk has not been ready to receive us. I suppose we shall not be there till the end of the month instead of the beginning. One of the good things I look forward to is the sight of your dear face again. You will see little more than half of me, for nearly half has been consumed. But I have been nursed with supreme tenderness, and am daily gaining some strength. Much love to both.

Letter to Charles L. Lewes, 23d Nov. 1880.

We are lingering here for three reasons: the beauty of the weather, the unreadiness of the house, and my unfitness to bear the hurry of moving. I am getting better, but have not yet been able to bear much exertion.

Thanks for your pretty letter. I do not think I shall have many returns of Novembers, but there is every prospect that such as remain to me will be as happy as they can be made by the devoted tenderness which watches over me. Your years will probably be many, and it is cheering to me to think that you have many springs of happiness in your lot that are likely to grow fuller with advancing time. [313]

Letter to Mrs. Bray, 28th Nov. 1880.

I have thought of you all the more because I have not even heard anything of you for several months. You will wonder less why I have not written, as a consequence of those thoughts, when I tell you that I have been ill, and not allowed to do anything but indulge myself and receive indulgence. I am very well now, and am every day consciously gathering strength, so that, if I could like giving trouble, I should look back on my illness as a great opportunity of enjoying the tenderest watching and nursing. I kept my bed only about a week, and have always been equal, except at short intervals, to much reading and talking, so that there is no fair cause for any grumbling on my part. It has not been so bad an illness as that of last summer. You see we are not yet at Cheyne Walk, but we are to be settled there by the end of next week. I have had no trouble, but have remained here on my cushions while Mr. Cross has gone early for several mornings running to superintend the removal. It is difficult to give you materials for imagining my "world." Think of me as surrounded and cherished by family love; by brothers and sisters whose characters are admirable to me, and who have for years been my friends. But there is no excessive visiting among us, and the life of my own hearth is chiefly that of dual companionship. If it is any good for me that my life has been prolonged till now, I believe it is owing to this miraculous affection which has chosen to watch over me.

Journal, 1880.

Dec. 3.—Came to 4 Cheyne Walk.

Dec. 4.—Went to Popular Concert at St. James's Hall. Heard Madame Neruda, Piatti, and Miss Zimmermann.

Letter to Mrs. Congreve, 6th Dec. 1880.

Only on Friday evening did we get into this new house, and I had deferred writing to you till I could [314] say "Come and see me." I can say so now, but on reflection I have come to the conclusion that you would like yourself to fix a time beforehand, the journey here being rather long. Perhaps you will like to choose a day on which you could go to Emily also, her house being less formidably distant—across the park and down Sloane Street would be an easy way to us. This week we shall be much engaged in household matters, such as the reduction to order of the chaos which still reigns in certain places least obvious to visitors, and the procuring of small objects, either necessary or desirable. But after this week I shall be most glad if you and Dr. Congreve will come to see us just as and when you would find the least inconvenience in doing so—either at lunch-time (half-past one) or at a later hour.

I find myself in a new climate here—the London air and this particular house being so warm compared with Witley. I hope that you too find the air mild, for I know that suits you best.

Dr. and Mrs. Congreve paid their promised visit the week after this letter was written; and Madame Belloc lunched with us the following day. Order was beginning to reign in the new house. The books had all been arranged as nearly as possible in the same order that they had occupied at the Priory, Mr. Radermacher of the Pantechnicon having given his personal attention to this arrangement of some thousands of volumes, for which George Eliot was particularly grateful. Notwithstanding all this care, however, there were many unforeseen details of furnishing still to be completed, which caused a considerable expenditure of time. We continued reading aloud Max Müller's "Lectures on the Science of Language," and Duffield's [315] translation of "Don Quixote;" we were also reading "Hermann and Dorothea," Tennyson's last volume of poems, just published, and Mr. Frederic Myers's volume on Wordsworth. In the evenings we had always a little feast of music, and were becoming in every way reconciled to town life, notwithstanding the loss of country quiet, light, and beauty. On the afternoon of Friday, the 17th December, we went to see the "Agamemnon" performed in Greek by Oxford undergraduates. The representation was a great enjoyment—an exciting stimulus—and my wife proposed that during the winter we should read together some of the great Greek dramas. The following afternoon we went to the Saturday Popular Concert at St. James's Hall. It was a cold day. The air in the hall was overheated, and George Eliot allowed a fur cloak which she wore to slip from her shoulders. I was conscious of a draught, and was afraid of it for her, as she was very sensitive to cold. I begged her to resume the cloak, but, smiling, she whispered that the room was really too hot. In the evening she played through several of the pieces that we had heard at the concert, with all her accustomed enjoyment of the piano, and with a touch as true and as delicate as ever. On Sunday there was very slight trouble in the throat, but not sufficient to prevent her from coming down-stairs to breakfast as usual. In the afternoon she was well enough to receive visits from Mr. Herbert Spencer and one or two other friends. Afterwards she began the following letter to Mrs. Strachey. It was left unfinished in her writing-case, and is printed as it stands.

Letter to Mrs. Strachey, 19th Dec. 1880.

I have been thinking so much of Lady Colvile, and [316] yet I shrank from troubling even your more indirect sympathetic sorrow with a letter. I am wondering how far her health is in a state to endure this loss—a loss which extends even to me, who only occasionally saw, but was always cheered by, the expression of a wise and sweet nature, which clearly shone in Sir James Colvile's manner and conversation. One great comfort I believe she has—that of a sister's affection.

Here the letter is broken off. The pen which had delighted and comforted so many minds and hearts here made its last mark. The spring, which had broadened out into so wide a river of speech, ceased to flow.

Little more remains to be told. On Monday the doctor treated the case as one of laryngeal sore throat; and when Dr. Andrew Clark came for consultation on Wednesday evening the pericardium was found to be seriously affected. While the doctors were at her bedside she had just time to whisper to me, "Tell them I have great pain in the left side," before she became unconscious. Her long illness in the autumn had left her no power to rally. She passed away, about ten o'clock at night, on the 22d December, 1880.

She died, as she would herself have chosen to die, without protracted pain, and with every faculty brightly vigorous.

Her body rests in Highgate Cemetery, in the grave next to Mr. Lewes. In sleet and snow, on a bitter day—the 29th December—very many whom she knew, very many whom she did not know, pressed to her grave-side with tributes of tears and flowers.

Her spirit joined that choir invisible "whose music is the gladness of the world."






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[1] "An Old Story and Other Poems," by Elizabeth D. Cross.

[2] "Address to the Working Men."

[3] In the "Address to the Working Men."

[4] Visit to Mr. W. G. Clark.

[5] Of Comte.

[6] Dr. Congreve's article, "Mr. Huxley on M. Comte," in Fortnightly Review, April, 1869.

[7] See ante, vol. i. p. 220.

[8] Professor Edmund Spenser Beesley, a well-known member of the Positivist body, who married Miss Crompton, daughter of Mr. Justice Crompton.

[9] An article by Mr. Frederic Harrison in the Fortnightly Review of November, 1869.

[10] Portrait of Charles Hennell.

[11] Written after the death of Lord Clarendon, who, Lady Lytton tells me, had been like a father to her.

[12] "Armgart."

[13] Miss Octavia Hill. Walmer Street Industrial Experiment, tried by Canon Fremantle under Miss Hill's supervision.

[14] Scott Commemoration.

[15] Written just before the death of Mrs. Lytton's eldest boy.

[16] "Marie of Villefranche." Macmillan's Magazine, August, 1871.

[17] The collector of "The Wise, Witty, and Tender Sayings of George Eliot."

[18] Mr. W. H. Bullock—changed his name to Hall.

[19] The Six-Mile Bottom shooting had been let to H. R. H. that year.

[20] A site offered near Shere, in Surrey.

[21] Death of Mrs. Cross's sister of cholera, at Salzburg.

[22] See ante, p. 66.

[23] "Paul Bradley."

[24] A vase with paintings from "Romola" on tiles.

"Tristi fummo
Nell'aer dolce che dal sol s'allegra."

Inferno, cant. vii. 121, 122.

[26] Bessborough Gardens.

[27] I had been abroad for six weeks.

[28] This was a visit to Six-Mile Bottom, where M. Turguenieff, who was a very highly valued friend of Mr. and Mrs. Lewes, had come to compare his experiences of Russian and English sport. I remember George Eliot telling me that she had never met any literary man whose society she enjoyed so thoroughly and so unrestrainedly as she did that of M. Turguenieff. They had innumerable bonds of sympathy.

[29] This letter is in acknowledgment of a letter from Mrs. Beecher Stowe on "Daniel Deronda."

[30] Mme. Bodichon had been dangerously ill.

[31] Refers to a poem by W. Allingham, "The General Chorus," with a burden:

"Life, Death; Life, Death;
Such is the song of human breath."

[32] The beginning of my mother's last illness.

[33] Dinner at Mr. Goschen's.

[34] "The Impressions of Theophrastus Such."

[35] Madame Belloc.

[36] Mrs. Charles Lewes.

[37] "The Ethics of George Eliot's Works," by J. C. Brown. Blackwood: 1879.

[38] Article on G. H. Lewes.—New Quarterly Review, Oct. 1879.

[39] "George Henry Lewes Studentship."—This studentship has been founded in memory of Mr. George Henry Lewes, for the purpose of enabling the holder for the time being to devote himself wholly to the prosecution of original research in physiology. The studentship, the value of which is slightly under £200 per annum, paid quarterly in advance, is tenable for three years, during which time the student is required to carry on, under the guidance of a director, physiological investigations, to the complete exclusion of all other professional occupations. No person will be elected as a "George Henry Lewes Student" who does not satisfy the trustees and director, first, as to the promise of success in physiological inquiry; and, second, as to the need of pecuniary assistance. Otherwise all persons of both sexes are eligible. Applications, together with such information concerning ability and circumstances as the candidate may think proper, should be sent to the present director, Dr. Michael Foster, New Museums, Cambridge, not later than October 15, 1879. The appointment will be made and duly advertised as soon as possible after that date.

[40] Mr. John Blackwood died on 29th October, 1879.

[41] Madame Belloc.

[42] Mrs. Hall.

[43] Mrs. Isaac Evans (since deceased).

[44] Rev. Frederick Evans, Rector of Bedworth.

[45] Madame Belloc.

[46] Mr. Geddes's death.

[47] Now Sir Andrew Clark.

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors were repaired.

Duplicate sidenotes (repeated at the top of continuation pages) were deleted.

P. 259 sidenote (22d April, retained) and p. 260 continuation sidenote (23d April, deleted) disagree.

P. 224, "disbelief in my own {dutyright}"—original shows "duty" immediately above "right" with large curly braces surrounding both.

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